There are two discussions going on in Washington about building new sports facilities.

One, we’ve all pretty much heard about. The out-of-town owners of the Sonics have asked for $300 million of public money for a new $400 million arena outside of downtown Seattle. Seems like an impossible request, so now they’re working on packing up the team to some other location.

The other, we’ve just now started hearing about it, and unless you pay very close attention, you probably won’t. The University of Washington athletic department is starting the drum beat for major renovations of Husky Stadium. The cost may rise to around $600 million.

Here’s the irony of the situation. In no way imaginable are the Sonics a public entity, yet they were seeking mostly public money for their venture. The Husky football team can only be considered part of a public entity, yet I’d expect that the renovation of Husky Stadium will be mostly funded through private donations.

While the conversation on funding is only getting started for Husky Stadium, the one list of possible funding sources includes:

Officials aren’t ruling out any method of fundraising, including premium seating, ticket surcharges and possibly even selling corporate naming rights to the stadium.

I’ve also heard the term “passing the hat.” Even though the University of Washington is a public entity, what you aren’t seeing is an automitic expectation of a request for public funds.

The difference being is that the Huskies have hundreds of well-off boosters who under the right circumstances would be willing to donate money to the cause. While the Sonics would need to find investors, people who’d want a return on their money, to find private money for an arena, the Huskies just need people who are willing to donate, the only expectation is winning.

There are answers though:
Sports Stadium Madness: Why It Started, How to Stop It
Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust: Funding and Investment
…supporter involvement in clubs is good for clubs as well as fans.