Seattle Arena Proposal Headed To The State Legislature In Hopes Of Luring NBA Team
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, King County Exec Dow Constantine and hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen today are expected to announce that they are “sending legislation to the city and county councils to finance" a new $490M arena in the city's Sodo neighborhood, according to Lynn Thompson of the SEATTLE TIMES. McGinn and Constantine also are "expected to propose an agreement" over what percentage of $200M in public construction bonds the county and city each would finance. City and county officials met late yesterday in McGinn's City Hall office to finalize what Sung Yang, Constantine's Chief of Staff, "characterized as a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that would be sent to the councils.” An MOU would be “less binding than an ordinance and potentially less of a guarantee of taxpayer financial commitment.” City Hall sources said that “over the past month, Hansen had asked that the legislation be in the form of an ordinance that would be more binding so that, if approved, he would be in a stronger position to lobby” the NBA for a team. Thompson notes the city and county's outlay of public money “would be capped at" $200M, which would be “repaid through rent and taxes generated by the arena.” Hansen said that he “hoped the respective councils would approve the memorandum by June, so he could take it to the NBA Board of Governors.” Thompson writes that timeline is “unlikely with the councils only now receiving the detailed legislation and with in-depth financial analysis of Hansen's proposal yet to be made” (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/16). Hansen said his effort to build an arena for a Seattle NBA team is going “great.” Hansen: "I think we went into it knowing there would be some concerns, some constituencies that would be against it, that negotiations with the city and county wouldn't be easy. But I think there's very broad-based support, given the thoughtfulness and fairness of the transaction relative to the prior proposals in Seattle and other stadium transactions and arena transactions." He added, "Hopefully people just trust -- really -- I'm trying to do what's right by the city" (SEATTLETIMES.com, 5/14).