Homeless people, tent encampments and vehicle residents disappeared off Seattle’s streets ahead of the All Star Game that took over Seattle between July 8 and 11, but city officials deny that the two events were connected.
At a July 8 press conference, Deputy Mayor Greg Wong told reporters that there had been “no artificial ramp up” in sweeps ahead of the games and that any sweeps conducted in and around the area of the stadiums were in line with a system that the city uses to prioritize removals.
Wong also denied city involvement in the placement of ecoblocks — giant blocks of concrete that can weigh between 1,800 and 4,000 pounds — along stretches of SODO where RVs had been removed. It is illegal for businesses or other residents to place these blocks on public property, but the city isn’t quick to remove them.
Greg Spotts, the director of the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), said his department is in the midst of its prime construction season, and it was “unlikely we’d take people off just to move ecoblocks around.”
SDOT did make a special effort to fix up sections of Royal Brougham Way, repairing potholes and sprucing up planter boxes, and transit was free on Monday and Tuesday that week.
Leaving aside the sudden — and otherwise unexplained — absence of people experiencing homelessness, Seattle did expect to benefit from the arrival of 100,000 baseball fans.
Visit Seattle estimated that the week of events would create “$50 million in economic impact” in the Greater Puget Sound region. Not all of that economic impact cash will land in the city of Seattle’s coffers, and it’s unclear how much public money will be spent on infrastructure improvements, those free transit days, security, sanitation and cleanup.
At the press conference, city officials emphasized the planning and effort that had gone into bringing the event to Seattle and what residents should expect to see as a result. That included a significant increase in the number of law enforcement officials from different agencies in the areas surrounding the stadiums, increased litter pickups and beautification efforts.
Proponents of events like the MLB All Star Game in this and other cities point to the benefit to small businesses, new money brought in from outside of the region and the warm fuzzies of having a large, fun event built on a national pastime.
They also talk about the impact of “exposure” for a city, which is every journalist’s favorite word. But that might be inside baseball.
Read more of the July 12-18, 2023 issue.