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    Three legislators give the arena a cautious green light

    Kohl-Welles, Pettigrew, and Frockt urge the Seattle City Council to take advantage of developer Chris Hansen's plan. The Sonics, they say, don't have to mean fouling the Port.
    A sign of support for construction of a new pro sports arena during a rally in 2012.

    A sign of support for construction of a new pro sports arena during a rally in 2012. Quin Benzel

    Site of the proposed new arena in SoDo. First Avenue South is the western boundary; the Safeco Field garage is to the north.

    Site of the proposed new arena in SoDo. First Avenue South is the western boundary; the Safeco Field garage is to the north. Sportspress Northwest/City of Seattle

    Like many Washington residents and long-time supporters of the Sonics, we now have a renewed hope to see our team return to Seattle. We are also very excited at the potential of having an NHL franchise in our global city. We relish the prospect of re-instilling a part of the community spirit that went missing when we lost Seattle's original team. 

    Many independent analysts have concluded that Mr. Hansen's proposal, with numerous benefits and safeguards provided, is solid. The contribution of hundreds of millions of dollars of private capital, coupled with a financing model predicated on arena revenues that would not otherwise exist — all while offering critical safeguards to protect the taxpayers — provides the opportunity for a unique public–private partnership with the City and County. We strongly agree that "[t]he pro-basketball arena proposed for Sodo would be the best deal for the public of any sports stadium built around here in nearly 75 years" (Danny Westneat, Seattle Times, May 29, 2012).

    Among several serious and significant taxpayer protections, the basic framework of this potential agreement requires the Arena group to cover any cost overruns on construction, to set aside adequate reserves to back the annual debt service, and to make up any shortfall on the debt service that might accrue from operating revenue shortfalls.

    The group must also sign a 30-year lease which provides a binding non-relocation agreement for the team, open their books annually to assure continued profitability of the enterprise, and contribute $2 million per year into a fund for capital upkeep and improvements to ensure the arena remains a state of the art facility. This has led Professor Justin Marlow of the UW School of Public Affairs to conclude that “[t]he MOU is one of the most favorable to the public of any recent public-private partnerships.”  (Lynn Thompson, Seattle Times, July 14, 2012).

    We should not eliminate opportunities like this for our region as long as all due diligence is done, and done right. If there are ways to improve the Arena project plan, by all means we should pursue them. But let's also recognize that this is a unique opportunity. Indeed, letting this proposal pass would leave us wondering for years what could have come from a project promising thousands of family wage jobs, enhanced civic pride, and an increased sense of unity with the return of the Sonics. 

    We must also emphasize that this project will help boost our economy by directly creating nearly 2,000 sorely needed local construction jobs, while generating additional state and local revenues. And not to be ignored are the indirect benefits of the investment, which will increase economic and cultural activity in ancillary industries, such as hotels and restaurants.

    Nonetheless, we believe it’s imperative to remain mindful of the overall impacts to other sectors of our community, including the repurposing of Key Arena, and the impact of SODO traffic congestion on freight mobility and operations of the Port of Seattle. Key Arena is a historic institution to our city, and the maritime industry and our trade-based economy are key drivers of family wage jobs and continued economic prosperity for our region and the state.

    However, our observation is that some of the key stakeholders with concerns have failed to take a critical step — to collectively communicate specific concerns and solutions for mitigation. In particular, discussions over traffic congestion and freight mobility in the SODO area to date have been vague and anecdotal, and not particularly solution-oriented. We look forward to and encourage such discussions.

    In an effort to come to a long-term resolution, we encourage the City Council to continue moving this proposal forward, while allowing processes already planned to take place — such as the freight mobility study planned by the Port and City of Seattle and funded by the Puget Sound Regional Council, and the environmental impact statement. These processes are designed to allow the appropriate stakeholders to participate, and we believe they will provide a genuine and comprehensive solution based on actual data rather than vague impacts, aspirational goals, and anecdotes.

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    Posted Thu, Aug 30, 12:49 a.m. Inappropriate

    Wow, what a surprise that three phony, hypocritical, corrupt career palm-greased "progressives" have decided to "cautiously" bend over for the latest billionaire. I am shocked, just shocked.


    Posted Thu, Aug 30, 9:33 a.m. Inappropriate



    Posted Thu, Aug 30, 12:49 p.m. Inappropriate

    These are plain corrupt scoundrels. We should ask them what Hansen had for lunch; the taste should still be on their brown nosing tongues.


    Posted Thu, Aug 30, 7:49 a.m. Inappropriate

    I hope there will also be some realistic studies and plans for how to address commuter traffic at peak scenarios. I do not know how many times this would happen per year, it will depend in part on what else the basketball arena is used for: concerts, conventions, etc outside of the basketball season.

    Right now, the Seahawks handle 70K at a game by a mix of dedicated buses, plus light rail, Amtrak and ferry. This is on Sunday afternoons when there's no commuter traffic and no port activity.

    It seems that if the Mariners are drawing a significant crowd, and if the basketball arena is being used at the same time, we could be at 60 to 64K in attendees, close to the 70K at a Hawks game. So, what type of transportation will be needed, given that the buses, light rail, Sounder etc are already full from commuters? And who will pay for this?


    Posted Thu, Aug 30, 8:24 a.m. Inappropriate

    These folks have never seen government spending they can say "no" to, so why would the arena be any different. After all, it's not their money on the line. The idea that we would foul up our industrial area for a non-essential nicety for people who can afford entry, when there are numerous other sites that would not create the challenges and impacts the Sodo site would, is poor public policy to say the least.

    And the claim that "some of the key stakeholders with concerns have failed to take a critical step — to collectively communicate specific concerns and solutions for mitigation." Do you legislators know what SEPA is? Are you completely unaware that it is the proponents of the arena who have to show it WON'T crate the impacts. The people concerned about the Sodo location have recited chapter and verse, and numerous studies, to clearly pinpoint the numerous likely impacts, while all the proponents offer is "we don't believe you," "trust us", and "we'll get to looking at impacts after you approve the deal."

    Oh yeah, and that phony baloney "transportation study" Hansen paid for, that even he said was only about a 3 on a scale of 10 in terms of quality, which was still far too generous, and contained numerous flat out inaccuracies such as that transit service in the area is great -- if and SDOT had asked, as if SDOT even had to, unless they are totally incompetent, they would know that there is not longer any bus service on First Avenue South. But why bother with facts when you can simply say whatever you want and not be held accountable?

    Posted Thu, Aug 30, 9:44 a.m. Inappropriate

    To Mr. Frockt, who unfortunately is my "representative," although I can't say he represents anything I believe in, let me say, I will vote for a common garden slug before I'll vote for you again. Count on it.

    This is just more of the vague crap the politicians have been mouthing all along. I find particularly incensing the statement, "we now have a renewed hope to see our team return to Seattle." Hello!! There is no "our team." What you're calling "our team" is just a bunch of interchangeable overpaid and overgrown frat boys who we'll likely hear about with respect to drunken driving, spousal abuse, or any of a number of other public wrongs in the future. And the suggested NHL team, the Kings, have already reached an agreement to go elsewhere, not here.

    I heartily endorse the other posters's comments as well.

    And as for the claptrap regarding transit, as someone who works in Tacoma and lives in N. Seattle, I can say from bitter experience that, since whoever decides such things consistently schedules games at times when the rest of us who work for a living are trying to get past downtown to get home, no amount of transit of any sort, none of which serves my needs but for which I pay and pay and pay, will provide any mitigation.

    How it is that a tiny fraction of the population can hold all the rest of us hostage to ill-timed sporting events for the convenience of not-us, is beyond me.

    Finally, I find it the height of arrogance that you politicians tout contract terms that you claim will protect us. No thinking person can believe that there isn't a way to buy out those contracts. What the sporting folks want will happen, and we'll be on the hook for another sports palace without tenants.



    Posted Wed, Sep 5, 3:01 p.m. Inappropriate

    Things could be worse--you could have Kohl-Welles represent you.

    Posted Thu, Aug 30, 10:23 a.m. Inappropriate

    See you in August, 2016, at the newly minted SODO Sports Tri-Plex of Safeco, CenturyLink, and ???NBA/NHL Arena. How about hosting both the Republican and Democrat party conventions on consecutive weeks?


    Posted Thu, Aug 30, 12:45 p.m. Inappropriate

    Too many lies from politicians about this proposal. We don't want the damn arena.

    Hansen can pay for his own business. Here are these legislators; well, why the hell aren't these legislators getting the state to pay Hansen. These legislators are like everyone else, who says Hansen's proposal is a good thing, they say it is a good thing; but not if they pay for it, it is only a good thing if Seattle pays.

    These legislators don't want the state to pay. Hansen does not want to pay. Ballmer does not want to pay. Banks don't want to pay. Investors don't want to pay. No, Seattle is the only one that is supposed to want to pay; and Seattle is the one place that voted for I-91, because Seattle citizens do not want to pay for proposals, like Hansen's.

    This proposal is getting disgusting, from the start it has been pushed by politicians against the Seattle citizenry. The first thing the Seattle City Council said about this proposal was "there won't be a public vote". Then the Seattle City Council decides to ignore I-91, and continue considering this proposal. Now, we get this recess, where I guess the Seattle City Council Members can do their bargaining with Hansen about how much their payoff will be. It is disgusting that this proposal has not already been dumped.

    The legislators are corrupt. I-91 says economic benefit claims may not be used in assessing the proposal. The MOU does not guarantee the economic benefit claims. That is why they can not be used. Then, here are these legislators basing their entire support on unproven economic benefit claims. The economic benefit went from Hansen to these corrupt politicians. None of them get any support. This will be brought up at the local Democratic Party meetings. New Democratic candidates to replace these will be found.


    Posted Thu, Aug 30, 1:29 p.m. Inappropriate

    I am sad to say that I have been represented by Ms. Kohl-Welles for several years now. I was heartened to read that she was not going to run for re-elecrtion so I hope this announcement does not mean she is changing her mind. People like Ms. Kohl-Welles probably value a project like this much more than a clean investor-owned proposal; it allows her to "take credit" for a complex public/private agreement where she and like minded politicians can harvest the approval of sports fans and then later on can noisily express outrage when the public gets the worst of the bargain (think of Gary Locke gnashing his teeth at Mr. Behrens--we didn't know how modest Mr. Behrens really was; $75M is my recollection). I think the citizens are sadder and wiser but not the politicians.


    Posted Fri, Aug 31, 8:29 a.m. Inappropriate

    The comments above seethe with contempt directed at these three legislators. Looks like some officials are reaping what they have sown.

    Not sure when the government heads around here killed off “Seattle Nice”, but the corpse has been cold for a while.


    Posted Sat, Sep 1, 4:40 p.m. Inappropriate

    David Frockt has served in the Legislature for only two years, so he probably can't be termed a "career" corrupt politician. I don't know how long the other two legislators have served, but I've never known them to do anything that smacks of corruptio.

    If you don't want the arena, it isn't necessary to slander people who do.


    Posted Sat, Sep 1, 5:55 p.m. Inappropriate

    Well, Legislators should not ignore Seattle laws, such as I-91, when supporting the billionaires welfare arena. The Legislators should do some research that proves that arenas do not bring economic benefit. There is study after study that proves no economic benefit from NBA arenas, the King County expert panel said little, or no economic benefit from Hansen's proposal. Then, if the legislators want Hansen's proposed aren, they need to be putting up a bill in the legislature to pay for it. They aren't.

    So, the legislators falsely claim economic benefit, the legislators ignore Seattle law, and the legislators do not attempt to fund Hansen's proposal. Further, there is no indication that these legislators have even read the MOU/contract, studied the official presentations, or read any official documents pertaining to this proposal. Then we have a prominent Democratic insider lobbyist, Sinderman, hired by Hansen. Next thing you know these legislators appear with support for Hansen.

    These legislators deserve everything said about them, and worse. It is not slander, a Hansen lobbyist made deals with them, and here they are. There own statements prove they have no clue about this proposal. They quote phrases from Hansen lobbyists, and Hansen PR, as truth. These legislators are bought off scum, and that is not slander.

    If you want the proposed arena, it isn't necessary to lie about economics and arenas.


    Posted Wed, Sep 5, 3:10 p.m. Inappropriate

    Good point, Sara90. Slander only weakens the argument.

    I don't know about Sinderman, but I know that Kohl-Welles has been a dedicated proponent of large government and excessive legislation, which in my book is a special kind of corruption.

    Posted Fri, Sep 7, 11:36 p.m. Inappropriate

    There's not even the possibility of "slander" in this forum. Look it up, if you dare.


    Posted Sat, Sep 1, 8:03 p.m. Inappropriate

    But you see, I don't want it. Neither do I think that everyone who wants it is a lying, corrupt slimeball. You have no proof that Sinderman "made deals" with them, and considering the lack of rationale you've presented, I have no reason to take your charges are true.


    Posted Sat, Sep 1, 11:10 p.m. Inappropriate

    They use the same exact words as on Hansen's website. They use the same exact Westneat quote as on the Hansen website. Hansen's PR claims economic benefit, these legislators claim economic benefit. The King County expert panel said little, or no economic benefit; these legislators ignore that and make Hansen PR claims. These legislators ignore I-91 as Hansen wishes Seattle to ignore I-91. These legislators make unfounded statements about the Hansen proposal. These legislators use the same wording in their unfounded statements as may be found on Hansen's websites. These legislators ignored the facts of this proposal to assist Hansen in marketing his proposal. These legislators engaged in a PR stunt to benefit only Hansen. The same wording as on Hansen's website, and a Hansen hired lobbyist, Sinderman, along with other Hansen hired lobbyists hanging around.

    These legislators show that they are not simply for this proposal by their own letter. An individual that was simply for this proposal would not parrot PR statements from Hansen's website; a good faith proponent would not justify their position with false statements (and easily proven incorrect statements), and would not dispense false statements.

    These legislators could have easily checked the veracity of their statements before making them. As responsible elected representatives of the citizenry, one would think these legislators did check the veracity. They would have found out that property taxes would be used to pay for the proposal, and that Hansen would operate free of Seattle taxes. That is not arena revenue paying for the arena. That is an easy thing for anyone to find out. These are legislators.

    So, these legislators end up dispensing Hansen propaganda fed to them by payed Hansen/Ballmer/Nordstroms lobbyists. These legislators, also, do not think that Hansen's proposal is good enough for them to write a bill to get Hansen State financing. Oh, no, these courageous arena proponent legislators don't want the State to pay. Not one word from these legislators on starting an initiative in the Legislature to get financing for this proposed arena. So, they dispense straight up PR for Hansen, think of it however you wish.


    Posted Tue, Sep 4, 11:29 a.m. Inappropriate

    Build it in Renton or Bellevue. Period.

    Posted Wed, Sep 5, 9:22 a.m. Inappropriate

    The Tacoma Dome is the natural place for an NBA team.

    After 20 billion spent in transit, we should be adopting a regional, not a Seattle centric approach.


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