Seahawks and Sounders FC license plates would benefit Washington youth

Lt. Gov. Owen said his office was recently approached by the Seattle Seahawks/Seattle Sounders FC organization to introduce the bill
Jan 20, 2013

Legislation that would allow fans of the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders FC to purchase Washington license plates in support of their favorite team is being introduced today at the request of Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, with prime sponsorship by the co-chairs of the Senate Transportation Committee, Senator Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way and Curtis King, R-Yakima.

If SB 5152 passes this legislative session, the specialty plates would be available in January, 2014 for $40.

Net proceeds would benefit three non-profit organizations, two that are youth-oriented and one that recognizes good citizenship and helps promote trade, tourism and international goodwill.

Lt. Gov. Owen said his office was recently approached by the Seattle Seahawks/Seattle Sounders FC organization to introduce the bill and to offer his ideas on which organizations might be good beneficiaries of any revenue from plate sales.

The Seattle Seahawks has selected InvestED, a Seattle-based non-profit that partners with 660 schools in Washington and provides grants to help students from low-income families buy clothes, shoes, school activity cards, testing fees and other student needs.

The organization works with teachers, counselors, coaches and staff to identify these students.

The bulk of the proceeds from Sounders FC plates would go to the Washington State Mentors (WSM), a public/private partnership based in Issaquah that provides grants and assistance to youth organizations across the state.

As the volunteer chair of the WSM board of directors, the lieutenant governor said he is very aware of what is known as the “mentoring gap,” or the difference between the number of adult mentors who are available to guide at-risk youth and the number of mentees.

WSM estimates there are 240,000 children in Washington who could benefit by having a mentor, but only about 32,000 who have one.

“Sales from this license plate would help us close this critical mentoring gap,” said Owen. “We are extremely grateful to the Seahawks and Sounders for this incredible opportunity.”

A smaller portion of the Sounders FC plate proceeds would go to the Association of Washington Generals, a service organization chartered in state statute that recognizes outstanding individuals and promotes a variety of civic and veterans causes.

“The Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders FC are excited by the prospect of state of Washington license plates offered with team logos,” said Mike Flood, vice president for community relations. “With fervent fan bases and strong charitable partners, the program is sure to generate interest and revenue.”

As one measure of fan avidity, the Seahawks average attendance is 67,000 and the Sounders 43,000.

“With the boost to school support programs operated by InvestED and Washington, students statewide will be the big beneficiaries,” Flood added. “Both these charitable organizations have proven records of success in supporting students across the state. We look forward to a partnership that combines fan fervor with strengthening the lives and academic success of students throughout the great state of Washington.”

The Seahawks and Sounders would join the Seattle Mariners, Washington State University and many other organizations with special license plates.

The first stop for the bill will be a hearing before the Senate Transportation Committee, which is likely to be scheduled later this month.

“I am very pleased to be working with the lieutenant governor on moving this bill forward, especially since it will benefit children. Given the success of the two sports franchises, I know it will be a hit with our football and soccer fans too,” said Senator Eide, who co-chairs Transportation with Senator King.

Six other legislators have added their names to the bill to date, and more are expected to sign on as co-sponsors as the bill makes forward motion through the Legislature.


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