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According to King County budget director Dwight Dively, "much of this is not yet resolved, so these are tentative thoughts. It is likely that most of the debt will be taxable because it involves private activity." Dively continued, "It might be possible to issue these as revenue bonds without a 'full faith and credit' pledge, but the interest rate would be significantly higher. At this point, I assume the arena debt, if issued, would be GO (general obligation) bonds with the full faith and credit pledge."
And what does the public get out of this? The fiscal upside is far more modest, though it can be rewarding to a few politically powerful sectors: short term construction jobs, and later on, part-time, low-skill, low-wage concession jobs or waiting tables at nearby sports bars. Boosters will claim that government stadium subsidies produce or sustain huge numbers of jobs, through tourism and add-on effects. Potentially, but many of these jobs are just displaced from elsewhere in the region (as for example when someone grabs a burger near the arena rather than one closer to home in Bothell).
There will be major costs to the public as well. Making arena and other sports traffic and nearby rail and Port of Seattle operations able to coexist in an area of industrial activity is going to take tremendous resources for new transportation infrastructure. That will have to be funded by public agencies, possibly buried in a special levy for multiple road projects. As to the point that, after 30 years, the governments will end up owning both the land and the stadium. Is that a benefit or a white elephant? Think KeyArena 2.0: old, tired, empty, and expensive.
Above all, information asymmetry is a huge risk in negotiations. Time for a very hard look at all the aspects of this deal, by independent inspectors. If we understand all the upsides for arena investors, beyond professed civic pride, then the negotiating playing field will be leveled.
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