BY Art Thiel 08:09PM 06/19/2012

Thiel: Sizzling day in the arena-site argument

Former city council member Peter Steinbrueck claims arena site in SoDo violates land-use laws, which the mayor refuted; two King County council members hinted at wanting a public vote

While the sports world fixates on LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant, the match between Seattle’s arena proponents and opponents became a whole lot grittier and more compelling Tuesday.

Back-to-back hearings in King County Council chambers produced a charge from an expert that the site in SoDo for the $490 million project is not big enough, and also would violate land-use laws, which brought a counter-charge from the mayor that the expert is a house honk for (ahem) Bellevue. And arena developer Chris Hansen was challenged: If your deal is so swell, why not put up the project for a county-wide vote?

The fact that Hansen didn’t answer well the question made for more drama. Nothing was decided Tuesday, but if someone thought that the boisterous celebration of Sonics pride and Hansen-mania in Occidental Park Tuesday swung the deal, that someone might settle back for a longer ride, and order a double.

Late in the afternoon, Hansen’s architectural firm in Kansas City responded to an SPNW story, retorting that Steinbrueck’s assumptions were wrong regarding the arena being too small for the seven acres Hansen has purchased so far.

The expert was Peter Steinbrueck, a Seattle City council member from 1997 to 2007 who in 2000 helped create ordinances that he claims confine major developments in SoDo to the existing stadiums, specifically to exclude further encroachment upon the industrial character. See earlier story here.

After his presentation to the council’s transportation committee, chaired by Larry Phillips, a site opponent who arranged for Steinbrueck’s appearance, the longtime Seattle activist said the space requirements for the arena are more than Hansen has explained and would violate SoDo’s land-use ordinances.

A few hours later, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn fired back.

“Siting a new arena in the District is legal and appropriate,” his statement read. “In prior statements to the press and in his testimony before the King County Council today . . . Steinbrueck has advocated that an arena should be built in Bellevue, not Seattle. Building an arena in Bellevue would mean a loss of tax revenue, not only from sports but from other major events appropriate for arenas.”

Reached by phone and told of the mayor’s thoughts, Steinbrueck chuckled.

“I beg to differ with his lordship,” Steinbrueck said, adding that he and McGinn are friends — or at least, were, as of Tuesday morning. McGinn has much on the line: He has put a lot of political capital, and some of the city’s bonding capacity, at some risk in the arena project that is unique in Seattle’s checkered history with sports stadiums — a rich guy chose the site first, and let everyone ask questions later.

Bad public policy, said Steinbrueck.

“I don’t think people with a lot of money should dictate terms on a project of this size and expense,” he said. “This (arena) is a direct assault on the industrial nature of SoDo. The (land-use ordinances in 2000) were written specifically to preserve our industrial lands. Now all of that seems to be forgotten.

“This decision has regional and even national importance (given the business the Port of Seattle does). The arena, and the proponents’ stated goals of creating an entertainment district, are not possible within the boundaries of the industrial-zoned area.”

As to the charge of being a honk for Bellevue-arena interests, Steinbrueck laughed again.

“I’ve had no contact with anyone over there,” he said. “I’m not taking any money from anyone. Although I am a little surprised that there hasn’t been more clamor from the Eastside, because they could use something like this.”

Steinbrueck’s claim that the lot size was too small was refuted in a written response from Hansen’s architectural firm, 360 Architecture of Kansas City, relayed via Hansen’s PR firm. Principal architect Anton Foss wrote:

“We can state confidently that based on our 20 years of experience in designing arenas, that the dimensions of the SoDo site will support a modern NBA/NHL facility. In our preliminary studies for the site conducted nearly a year ago, we overlaid several other modern arenas on the project site to verify there is sufficient area and critical dimensions. The site fits such arenas comfortably.

“The site would only be inadequate for one of the ‘super-sized’ arenas such as Staples Center (Los Angeles) or Amway Center in Orlando. These buildings have 150,000-300,000 extra square feet of office and lobby space that would be totally unnecessary for an arena in the SoDo area of the Seattle market.”

Steinbrueck in fact used an overlay of the new, 875,000-square-foot Orlando arena in a rendering of the Hansen site shown Tuesday at the hearing to make his point about site inadequacy. Hansen hasn’t said specifically what the dimensions will be other than to say it will seat 18,500 for basketball, and about a thousand less for hockey.

When KeyArena held the Sonics, it was the NBA’s smallest arena at 368,000 square feet, a fact often cited by critics for its inability to create revenues to sustain an NBA franchise.

Steinbrueck said while the actual footprint of the arena perhaps could fit, barely, between the Amtrak train tracks on the east and First Avenue South on the west, there would be no room for the “apron” that surrounds all arenas, as well as parking and any amenities.

“You could build a (parking) structure over the railroad tracks,” he said. “But if you go south of Holgate with anything that’s part of the entertainment district, you violate the principle behind the land-use laws that dictate a transition between sports-recreational use and industrial use.”

Foss wrote that the land-use questions were beyond his firm’s expertise.

In the afternoon, the full county council met to hear Hansen for the first time in public make case for an arena in which he and his investors, which include Microsoft owner Steve Ballmer and the Nordstrom family, would pay $290 million, while the city and county would bond themselves to supply what amounts to a maximum $200 million, 30-year loan.

Questions from the council’s chief site critics, Phillips and Pete von Reichbauer, led to tense, but polite, moments in which Hansen was asked if he’d consider allowing a county-wide vote on the project, something he has said in interviews he would not do.

“The public has already voted — with I-91,” Hansen said of a 2007 Seattle ballot measure that won overwhelming approval, mandating a modest rate of return on any building for pro sports. Von Reichbauer retorted by saying that was a city vote from which county voters — his district represents south county voters — were excluded.

“Government would be dysfunctional if every ordinance were required to be voted on,” Hansen said, saying council members were elected to represent voters’ interests.  Von Reichbauer reminded him that proposals to fund publicly the Mariners stadium (1995) and the Seahawks stadium (1997) came to public votes.

Hansen never said yes or no to the original question, but did say, “we will disagree, and that’s your right.”

A difference is that the Hansen proposal asks for no new taxes, but a re-direction of tax revenues generated by the project to go to debt retirement. “The money goes into the building construction, which the public will own, and not into our pockets,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the first hearing, opponents of the SoDo site, including representatives of the Port of Seattle and the Manufacturing Industrial Council, had the floor to themselves to make again their case that project threatens port jobs and the welfare of industries throughout the district — all preceded by the same qualifier that they want to see the Sonics return.

Port commissioner Tom Albro said a third stadium would be a “job killer” unless a lot of money is spent mitigating the impact of a new facility. He said all parties had the ability to solve the problem, but questioned whether there is the will to solve it.

“Basketball, good. That siting, without massive mitigation, bad,” Albro said. “Siting an arena there is a job killer for us.”


YourThoughts

  • Jamo57

    Did anyone bother to point out to Von Reichbauer the public vote on the Mariners stadium failed?
    It seems we have a toxic mix of clashing egos and lack of leadership brewing.

    • art thiel

      Pete lived the history. He tried to stop the Mariners project in order to get equal treatment for the Seahawks (then owned by Ken Behring). Now he’s defending the Mariners position because in coincides with the Port’s demands.  Man of many hats. It’s called politics.

      • Jamo57

        I know he lived the history.   I re-read ‘Out of Left Field’ about a year ago and it all came back to me.  ;-)    However his gushing comments made in the past about the important value sports has in bringing a community together and improving our quality of life now ring as empty rhetoric and he appears to be shilling for the Ms.   As Safeco, of all the stadium projects and proposed projects, was the most heavily subsidized by the public, it reeks of incredible hypocrisy.
         
        I remember the whole history, the fights with the PFD.   The resignations.   The tearful putting the franchise up for sale by John Ellis.    Someone did an excellent job of chronicling the events.  
         
        The Ms have always played political hardball while sending warm and fuzzy Rick Rizz out to be the front man.  I’m just saying its time to actually act in the community’s best interest rather than just selling ‘community’ to us. 

      • Da Kid

        The Mariners deal seems to be ALWAYS misrepresented by the anti-sports, anti-stadium crowd. Speaking as a former Populist Crapper, I didn’t vote against the Mariners or their proposed stadium. I voted against an increase in the sale tax to fund it. Later that same election day, I was in the Dome cheering the team on as they thrashed Texas.

        Paul Allen spent an insane amount of his vast personal wealth to get his stadium deal approved. What was it, Art, $20 per yes vote?

        Amazing what von Reichbauer conveniently forgets.

        P.S. to Arturo: Black and Decker brands were purchased by Salton/Russell Hobbs, Inc. in 2007, sold to Spectrum Brands in 2010. All B&D products are now made in China. So unless von Reichbauer and Truth are Chinese…well, there goes the tool argument.

  • Jamo57

    Did anyone bother to point out to Von Reichbauer the public vote on the Mariners stadium failed?
    It seems we have a toxic mix of clashing egos and lack of leadership brewing.

    • art thiel

      Pete lived the history. He tried to stop the Mariners project in order to get equal treatment for the Seahawks (then owned by Ken Behring). Now he’s defending the Mariners position because in coincides with the Port’s demands.  Man of many hats. It’s called politics.

      • Jamo57

        I know he lived the history.   I re-read ‘Out of Left Field’ about a year ago and it all came back to me.  ;-)    However his gushing comments made in the past about the important value sports has in bringing a community together and improving our quality of life now ring as empty rhetoric and he appears to be shilling for the Ms.   As Safeco, of all the stadium projects and proposed projects, was the most heavily subsidized by the public, it reeks of incredible hypocrisy.
         
        I remember the whole history, the fights with the PFD.   The resignations.   The tearful putting the franchise up for sale by John Ellis.    Someone did an excellent job of chronicling the events.  
         
        The Ms have always played political hardball while sending warm and fuzzy Rick Rizz out to be the front man.  I’m just saying its time to actually act in the community’s best interest rather than just selling ‘community’ to us. 

      • Da Kid

        The Mariners deal seems to be ALWAYS misrepresented by the anti-sports, anti-stadium crowd. Speaking as a former Populist Crapper, I didn’t vote against the Mariners or their proposed stadium. I voted against an increase in the sale tax to fund it. Later that same election day, I was in the Dome cheering the team on as they thrashed Texas.

        Paul Allen spent an insane amount of his vast personal wealth to get his stadium deal approved. What was it, Art, $20 per yes vote?

        Amazing what von Reichbauer conveniently forgets.

        P.S. to Arturo: Black and Decker brands were purchased by Salton/Russell Hobbs, Inc. in 2007, sold to Spectrum Brands in 2010. All B&D products are now made in China. So unless von Reichbauer and Truth are Chinese…well, there goes the tool argument.

  • Peter Steinbrueck

    We have a perfectly good sports facilty at Seattle Center- Key Arena,
    available immediately, and it’s paid for! Hansen’s claim that there isn’t enough parking as his
    reason rejecting the venue and for preferring SoDo site is disingenuous at best. Gates just built a new, green 2000 space parking garage whiich I’m sure could be utlized on a shared basis, and another garage could be built in the area at far less cost than a new sports arena. The real reason for SooDo is because the hedge fund manager wants to build, besides a new stadium, an LA Live! style entertainment district, with
    restaurants, bars, shops, clubs, etc. The real reasons are: to write down lease terms for a new publically financed stadium, and because there isn’t enough available land on the publicly owned Seattle Center campus for a lavish sports playground district (although Center House could serve well as a entertainment retail venue). For me, this less about heart for the game , and more about sound prudent decision-making
    when it comes to major public investment in regional public facilities. -Peter

    • Peter Steinbrueck

      Correction: Gates Foundation parking garage holds 1020 cars, and is a joint venture with the city of Seattle. And aren’t we supposed to be reducing parking demand these days as Mayor McGinn insists?

    • Jamo57

      Peter if Key Arena were ‘perfectly good’ it would have a tenant and not be hemoraging money. Unfortunately you are debating arena proposals of the past, based on past economics as well. For us folks wanting to use the arena via public transportation (isn’t that the best way?) , Key Arena is difficult to get to. In my case I would take the ST 510 express bus to Westlake Center and then take the Monorail (hopefully it would be running). Express busses from other outlying areas do not go to Seattle Center and I don’t know how attendees would transfer. In any event, the Monorail would be a terrible point to funnel travelers to the Center. I-91 passed. This financing proposal is a product of that vote. The private developers (something people, including myself, have been clamoring for) want to put the arena in an area already zoned for it, which also happens to be the transportation hub of the Puget Sound area (don’t forget the ferry system). Any other area will make the overall public and private cost grossly uneconomical. I suspect you know that and see this as the easiest way to kill the deal.

      • art thiel

        Jamo is right that the Key has had poor access forever. The Mercer revamp will help, but not much. As much as I enjoy the Key’s sightlines and intimacy, a re-do won’t work for hoops and definitely not for hockey and big concerts.  

    • art thiel

      Pete, thanks for responding. For concerts and max rev generation, KeyArena has to be torn down, not remade. Loading bays are way too small to get the biggest concerts away from T-Dome. And a tear-down in a public park means every constituency will want a say in the rebirth. Process will be much slower.

      Hansen said they would have to excavate to put parking and other facilities because of limits on surface expansion. And finally, it will still be in a residential/commercial  neighborhood at least as congested pre- and post- on Mercer as SoDo, only no trucks.

      Hansen today for the first time outlined a modest pedestrian mall between the arena and baseball parking garage. It’s not in the MOU, but looks far less than ambitious than LA Live!

      I agree that this needs to be decent deal for investors, which is not illegal, and that it is being done backward from convention. Hansen today at city hall.

      Stay in touch.

      • Jamo57

        I remember working at an industry trade show at the old Seattle Colliseum about 20 years ago.   I worked for an offset printing press manufacturer and the trade show was the big annual Northwest show that would go back and forth between Seattle and Portland in alternate years.   Other graphic arts suppliers and press manufacturers were there and we all needed time to set up our equipment and displays.  The shipping and receiving bays were way undersized and the companies delivering the various vendors’ displays and equipment were seriously delayed because they could not get in and out quickly.   We worked into the wee hours of the morning trying to slap our series of booths together and we were not alone.    As the footprint of the Key did not change, I can’t imagine the situation has improved much.    Of course those types of shows have long ago migrated to the  convention center and the Clink, but it speaks to the limitations of the Key.

  • Peter Steinbrueck

    We have a perfectly good sports facilty at Seattle Center- Key Arena,
    available immediately, and it’s paid for! Hansen’s claim that there isn’t enough parking as his
    reason rejecting the venue and for preferring SoDo site is disingenuous at best. Gates just built a new, green 2000 space parking garage whiich I’m sure could be utlized on a shared basis, and another garage could be built in the area at far less cost than a new sports arena. The real reason for SooDo is because the hedge fund manager wants to build, besides a new stadium, an LA Live! style entertainment district, with
    restaurants, bars, shops, clubs, etc. The real reasons are: to write down lease terms for a new publically financed stadium, and because there isn’t enough available land on the publicly owned Seattle Center campus for a lavish sports playground district (although Center House could serve well as a entertainment retail venue). For me, this less about heart for the game , and more about sound prudent decision-making
    when it comes to major public investment in regional public facilities. -Peter

    • Peter Steinbrueck

      Correction: Gates Foundation parking garage holds 1020 cars, and is a joint venture with the city of Seattle. And aren’t we supposed to be reducing parking demand these days as Mayor McGinn insists?

    • Jamo57

      Peter if Key Arena were ‘perfectly good’ it would have a tenant and not be hemoraging money. Unfortunately you are debating arena proposals of the past, based on past economics as well. For us folks wanting to use the arena via public transportation (isn’t that the best way?) , Key Arena is difficult to get to. In my case I would take the ST 510 express bus to Westlake Center and then take the Monorail (hopefully it would be running). Express busses from other outlying areas do not go to Seattle Center and I don’t know how attendees would transfer. In any event, the Monorail would be a terrible point to funnel travelers to the Center. I-91 passed. This financing proposal is a product of that vote. The private developers (something people, including myself, have been clamoring for) want to put the arena in an area already zoned for it, which also happens to be the transportation hub of the Puget Sound area (don’t forget the ferry system). Any other area will make the overall public and private cost grossly uneconomical. I suspect you know that and see this as the easiest way to kill the deal.

      • art thiel

        Jamo is right that the Key has had poor access forever. The Mercer revamp will help, but not much. As much as I enjoy the Key’s sightlines and intimacy, a re-do won’t work for hoops and definitely not for hockey and big concerts.  

    • art thiel

      Pete, thanks for responding. For concerts and max rev generation, KeyArena has to be torn down, not remade. Loading bays are way too small to get the biggest concerts away from T-Dome. And a tear-down in a public park means every constituency will want a say in the rebirth. Process will be much slower.

      Hansen said they would have to excavate to put parking and other facilities because of limits on surface expansion. And finally, it will still be in a residential/commercial  neighborhood at least as congested pre- and post- on Mercer as SoDo, only no trucks.

      Hansen today for the first time outlined a modest pedestrian mall between the arena and baseball parking garage. It’s not in the MOU, but looks far less than ambitious than LA Live!

      I agree that this needs to be decent deal for investors, which is not illegal, and that it is being done backward from convention. Hansen today at city hall.

      Stay in touch.

      • Jamo57

        I remember working at an industry trade show at the old Seattle Colliseum about 20 years ago.   I worked for an offset printing press manufacturer and the trade show was the big annual Northwest show that would go back and forth between Seattle and Portland in alternate years.   Other graphic arts suppliers and press manufacturers were there and we all needed time to set up our equipment and displays.  The shipping and receiving bays were way undersized and the companies delivering the various vendors’ displays and equipment were seriously delayed because they could not get in and out quickly.   We worked into the wee hours of the morning trying to slap our series of booths together and we were not alone.    As the footprint of the Key did not change, I can’t imagine the situation has improved much.    Of course those types of shows have long ago migrated to the  convention center and the Clink, but it speaks to the limitations of the Key.

  • Truth Meter

    Pete – who’s payroll are you on?

    Oh – and two hours after your statements yesterday you were refuted by numerous outside sources city actual city code…

    Oh – and SoDo (“South of Dome”) was never zoned for a strip club either.

    Out.

    • art thiel

      The lawyers will parse this, but Steinbrueck makes a point that if the project isn’t in compliance, the city is vulnerable to a project-delaying lawsuit. You’ve been warned.

      • Jamo57

        Isn’t a lawsuit in the cards no matter where they decide to put an arena?   

  • Truth Meter

    Pete – who’s payroll are you on?

    Oh – and two hours after your statements yesterday you were refuted by numerous outside sources city actual city code…

    Oh – and SoDo (“South of Dome”) was never zoned for a strip club either.

    Out.

    • art thiel

      The lawyers will parse this, but Steinbrueck makes a point that if the project isn’t in compliance, the city is vulnerable to a project-delaying lawsuit. You’ve been warned.

      • Jamo57

        Isn’t a lawsuit in the cards no matter where they decide to put an arena?   

  • Truth Meter

    Pete – nice work on KJR right now – you have effectively removed yourself from any chance from drinking from the public trough again. You my friend are a complete and total tool.

    • art thiel

       That’s two tools, Truth. Did Santa not give you the Black & Decker set you requested?

  • Truth Meter

    Pete – nice work on KJR right now – you have effectively removed yourself from any chance from drinking from the public trough again. You my friend are a complete and total tool.

    • art thiel

       That’s two tools, Truth. Did Santa not give you the Black & Decker set you requested?

  • sugarbear

    Build the arena on the eastside if you must. No, no, public money of any kind for this pleasure palace.

    • art thiel

       The $200 million public loan to investors is backstopped by several levels of taxpayer protection. The private only deals in SF can be managed because the Bay Area is a much bigger market with more suite buyers. 

  • sugarbear

    Build the arena on the eastside if you must. No, no, public money of any kind for this pleasure palace.

    • art thiel

       The $200 million public loan to investors is backstopped by several levels of taxpayer protection. The private only deals in SF can be managed because the Bay Area is a much bigger market with more suite buyers. 

  • jafabian

    IMO, the city and county councils are still going thru stadium fatigue and I really don’t blame them. Building a facility for billionaires so millionaire players can play and both can make profit really smacks something absurd and I’m not a fan of the city paying for a Taj Mahal-type arena when a paid for one exists and San Francisco is getting one thru private ownership. Seattle’s cititzens should not have to pay for Greg Nickels mistake on not following the example that Cleveland set for letting the Browns move to Baltimore or Charlotte letting the Hornets move to New Orleans.
    Now, being the long time Seattle sports fan that I am, sure I want the Sonics to return but I was fine with Key Arena personally and appreciate it’s long history as Sportspress so eloquently reported in it’s recent article on it’s history. I would think with the Fun Forest gone and if Memorial Stadium was taken out of the equation there would be a lot of land available to redo the Arena to “NBA specs” (Blech) but as Art has maintained an arena tied to a civic park won’t work as a sport venue. But what will? 360 Architecture states that Steinbruek is mistaken in his assertment that Hansen’s purchased land is too small for an NBA standard arena. So what if THEY are mistaken? When the Seattle Coliseum was remodeled as Key Arena David Stern hailed is a a model facility with some of the best sight lines of any arena in the NBA and then ten years said the exact opposite. I think Barry Ackerly made sense when he said Key Arena’s size would let the franchise ride out “the lean years” because life as an NBA franchise is cyclical. Even the Bulls, Lakers and Celtics have had their lean years and there’s no way that won’t happen here. And really, I’m not a fan of taking another city’s team or sitting thru an expansion team’s growing pains. AGAIN. (aren’t we doing that with the Mariners right now?) IMO, it’s about the luxury box suites, as it always is. Especially since the Cheapsapeake Energy Arena in OKC seats barely 1000 more seats than Key Arena but has 92 suites compared to the Key’s 58. Is there really demand for that though? In this economy? The NBA is mistaken in thinking what works in LA, NYC, Miami, Boston and Chicago will work in Seattle, Milwaukee, Denver, Salt Lake and Sacramento. It works in OKC because the Thunder are winning. Let’s see them go thru what Charlotte has been going thru. Key Arena worked because the Sonics were winning. For some reason the NBA and it’s owners are never accountable on that mark.
    Not sure what a public vote would accomplish. That was done for the M’s in ’95 and it failed. The city found a way to build Safeco Field anyways. City and county leaders should be representing their constiuents and making the decision anways because that’s the job they were elected to do. I do agree with VonReichbauer that Hansen is mistaken that I-91 should not be considered as taking place on a vote because IIRC, the Sonics are for more than just the Seattle area and when voting was done for Seahawks Stadium that vote was not restricted to just Seattle. But as I said, what would a public vote accomplish? Kinda sounds like trying to sabotage the building of a new arena to me since typically anything tied to higher taxes gets voted down.
    Hansen makes a good suggestion for a redirection of current taxes but that means someone will lose out that’s currently getting those funds. The DOT, city services, something like that. IMO, the NHL and NBA should be sitting in on this giving their support. That would help legitimize what Hansen’s trying to do. I can see the NHL doing that but not the NBA. Especially not after the way Stern went after Jim Rhome recently in an interview. That shows how the NBA definitely has a holier than thou attitude.

    • art thiel

       Wow, j. Lots of good points. Regarding cities, NBA always works better where it’s the only team: Portland, San Antonio, SLC.in one-horse town. Works in OKC too, but will be in trouble when they have a down cycle because there’s a very thin middle class in the region that is crucial in long-term franchise success.

      Hansen’s deal is relying on taxes created by the arena that wouldn’t happen unless the arena was there. Those taxes are generated by the arena. The tax revs generated by visitors to events — bars, hotels, etc — go to the city. 

    • jimc

      jeez, set up a paypal account for this guy. I’ve read much much worse in the Seattle Times.

  • jafabian

    IMO, the city and county councils are still going thru stadium fatigue and I really don’t blame them. Building a facility for billionaires so millionaire players can play and both can make profit really smacks something absurd and I’m not a fan of the city paying for a Taj Mahal-type arena when a paid for one exists and San Francisco is getting one thru private ownership. Seattle’s cititzens should not have to pay for Greg Nickels mistake on not following the example that Cleveland set for letting the Browns move to Baltimore or Charlotte letting the Hornets move to New Orleans.
    Now, being the long time Seattle sports fan that I am, sure I want the Sonics to return but I was fine with Key Arena personally and appreciate it’s long history as Sportspress so eloquently reported in it’s recent article on it’s history. I would think with the Fun Forest gone and if Memorial Stadium was taken out of the equation there would be a lot of land available to redo the Arena to “NBA specs” (Blech) but as Art has maintained an arena tied to a civic park won’t work as a sport venue. But what will? 360 Architecture states that Steinbruek is mistaken in his assertment that Hansen’s purchased land is too small for an NBA standard arena. So what if THEY are mistaken? When the Seattle Coliseum was remodeled as Key Arena David Stern hailed is a a model facility with some of the best sight lines of any arena in the NBA and then ten years said the exact opposite. I think Barry Ackerly made sense when he said Key Arena’s size would let the franchise ride out “the lean years” because life as an NBA franchise is cyclical. Even the Bulls, Lakers and Celtics have had their lean years and there’s no way that won’t happen here. And really, I’m not a fan of taking another city’s team or sitting thru an expansion team’s growing pains. AGAIN. (aren’t we doing that with the Mariners right now?) IMO, it’s about the luxury box suites, as it always is. Especially since the Cheapsapeake Energy Arena in OKC seats barely 1000 more seats than Key Arena but has 92 suites compared to the Key’s 58. Is there really demand for that though? In this economy? The NBA is mistaken in thinking what works in LA, NYC, Miami, Boston and Chicago will work in Seattle, Milwaukee, Denver, Salt Lake and Sacramento. It works in OKC because the Thunder are winning. Let’s see them go thru what Charlotte has been going thru. Key Arena worked because the Sonics were winning. For some reason the NBA and it’s owners are never accountable on that mark.
    Not sure what a public vote would accomplish. That was done for the M’s in ’95 and it failed. The city found a way to build Safeco Field anyways. City and county leaders should be representing their constiuents and making the decision anways because that’s the job they were elected to do. I do agree with VonReichbauer that Hansen is mistaken that I-91 should not be considered as taking place on a vote because IIRC, the Sonics are for more than just the Seattle area and when voting was done for Seahawks Stadium that vote was not restricted to just Seattle. But as I said, what would a public vote accomplish? Kinda sounds like trying to sabotage the building of a new arena to me since typically anything tied to higher taxes gets voted down.
    Hansen makes a good suggestion for a redirection of current taxes but that means someone will lose out that’s currently getting those funds. The DOT, city services, something like that. IMO, the NHL and NBA should be sitting in on this giving their support. That would help legitimize what Hansen’s trying to do. I can see the NHL doing that but not the NBA. Especially not after the way Stern went after Jim Rhome recently in an interview. That shows how the NBA definitely has a holier than thou attitude.

    • art thiel

       Wow, j. Lots of good points. Regarding cities, NBA always works better where it’s the only team: Portland, San Antonio, SLC.in one-horse town. Works in OKC too, but will be in trouble when they have a down cycle because there’s a very thin middle class in the region that is crucial in long-term franchise success.

      Hansen’s deal is relying on taxes created by the arena that wouldn’t happen unless the arena was there. Those taxes are generated by the arena. The tax revs generated by visitors to events — bars, hotels, etc — go to the city. 

    • jimc

      jeez, set up a paypal account for this guy. I’ve read much much worse in the Seattle Times.

  • Truth Meter

    Sally Bagshaw is the biggest, most self-serving and patronizing tool involved in this “debate.” She makes Licata appear to be a good guy (“no cultural value…”)

    At what point do these people have to go out and find real jobs?

    • art thiel

       Truth, ready to run for office and take her job?

  • Truth Meter

    Sally Bagshaw is the biggest, most self-serving and patronizing tool involved in this “debate.” She makes Licata appear to be a good guy (“no cultural value…”)

    At what point do these people have to go out and find real jobs?

    • art thiel

       Truth, ready to run for office and take her job?