By Jerry Cornfield Herald Writer
OLYMPIA — The 12th Man is about to go where it’s never been able to go before — on license plates.
Specialty plates featuring logos of the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders FC would go on sale as early as January under a bill rushing through the Legislature.
“On Day One, I will be getting mine,” said Phil Andruss, of Lynnwood, whom Seahawk fans know better as Mr. Mohawk.
“There’ll be thousands of fans getting them,” he said. “You’ll be driving and see somebody else with one and you’ll know it’s one of your people. It’s the 12th Man.”
Senate Bill 5152 creates specialty license plates for two of the state’s most popular pro sport franchises.
Each set will cost $40, which includes fees for the Department of Licensing to set up and administer the program. Plate renewals will cost $30.
Money from plate sales will be divided among a state fund used to build sports facilities and two programs aimed at helping students.
Seahawk and Sounder executives called on Lt. Gov. Brad Owen to draw up the legislation. Owen said they wanted to satisfy their fans who’ve been clamoring for a license plate for years and be able to steer money into worthy programs.
“What more can you ask for as sports fans?” Owen said. “It gives you another opportunity to show support for your team and for the kids.”
The bill flew through the Senate, passing 48-0 on Feb. 6. It cleared the House Transportation Committee on March 21 and will soon be teed up for a vote in the chamber.
Unless lawmakers fumble, Gov. Jay Inslee, a pretty dedicated sports fan, is set to sign this bill if it reaches him.
“When it comes to his desk we’ll be sure to have a 12th Man flag and Sounders banner displayed,” said Jaime Smith, the governor’s spokeswoman.
Plates would go on sale Jan. 1. How many of each would be sold is unknown.
A report from the Office of Financial Management estimated 9,000 sets — 4,500 for each team — would be sold in the first year and climb to 6,000 sets apiece in the second year.
Sales are projected to net $1.1 million in the next two years. Over time, the sum will double and maybe triple, according to the analysis.
Half the money raised from license plate sales will go into the state’s Youth Athletic Facilities Fund and used to develop sports fields.
The remaining proceeds generated by Seahawk plates will go to InvestED, a nonprofit group that partners with secondary schools to help students acquire small items for school they cannot afford on their own. The group has helped more than 16,500 students buy items such as shoes, coats, glasses and sports equipment, and pay for academic fees, according to its website.
Half the money raised from sales of Sounders plates will go to Washington State Mentors, which works to expand youth mentoring programs statewide. Owen is the chairman of the board of directors.
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; firstname.lastname@example.org.