BY Art Thiel 10:37PM 03/15/2016

Thiel: Arena debate sounds like a stalemate

Opponents and proponents of the Sodo arena project had their time in front of the City Council Tuesday. Each side had a point that neither could counter.

A pro-arena rally that drew ex-Sonics coach and player Lenny Wilkens ex-Blazers star Brandon Roy gathered in the Bertha Landes room at City Hall prior to a meeting of the city council’s transportation committee. / Art Thiel, Sportspress Northwest

While much of the rest of the nation Tuesday night was grieving or cheering whomever they thought was going to run or ruin America, a chunk of Seattle was intensely devoted to the profound decision of whether to vacate a couple blocks of a commercial street.

Seattle had to feel good about having perspective and priorities. At least the discussion never descended into something as vulgar and demeaning as a presidential debate.

Supporters of Chris Hansen’s Sodo arena crowded shoulder-to-shoulder with opponents of the project, making for standing room only in council chambers at City Hall, which for most meetings could be done in the nude and few would notice.

But, hey, this was sports. Move aside, crime, homelessness, city budgets and other trivial matters.

At issue at this public hearing in front of all nine members of the sustainability and transportation committee — you think a pol would miss showing up in front of this crowd and its TV cameras? — was whether to vacate a bit of Occidental Avenue to make way for the arena, as was done 20 years ago for the Mariners stadium and years earlier for the late Kingdome, where the Clink now resides.

Nothing was scheduled to be decided; it was merely a time for members of the public to vent, two minutes per speaker. Council member Mike O’Brien chaired the event and had people sign up pro and con, so he could alternate views.

Arena supporters — who gathered an hour earlier a floor below for a loud rally that made sure city workers knew they were there — seemed to have a numerical edge. But burly members of the longshore union were out in force. If a fight broke out, I knew where the smart money was going.

But in the first hour, nothing close to confrontation was in the air. A few shouts of contradiction, a few boos, but civic decorum, in the Seattle tradition, prevailed.

The sides mostly stuck to the script that has grown familiar since 2012, when Seattle native Hansen, the city and King County struck a five-year deal to build a $490 million arena. The plan is mostly privately funded, but asks for $200 million in municipal bonds to be paid back. That invites the need for public permission.

At risk of over-simplification, arguments Tuesday can be summarized this way:

  • Proponents: Show us your job losses.
  • Opponents: Show us your pro sports team.

It is a peculiar standoff of non-delivery.

The chief opposition was supplied by the Port of Seattle’s commissioners, staffers and the longshore union members, who feel threatened by the gentrification of Seattle’s maritime/industrial neighborhood that has been in a losing battle for years with sports stadiums. A third strike, they seem to suggest, and they’re mostly out of business.

Except it’s hard to prove the theoretical. None of buildings eliminated by the proposal hold many jobs that couldn’t be relocated. Occidental itself, according to the project’s environmental impact statement, as well as some recent media documentation, carries very little port traffic.

On the proponents’ side, Hansen has yet to find either a hockey or a basketball team that would fulfill the requirement in the memorandum of understanding for bonds to be issued and construction to begin.

Little on the NBA side, in terms of relocation or expansion, is publicly visible. The NHL, for all its urgency to move first into the Seattle marketplace, can’t seem to find a billionaire to own a team and partner with Hansen in the private side of arena construction.

Stalemate.

It’s a familiar one.

The only thing new since the last public hearings on the topic was the introduction of a report commissioned by the city council that said, for $285 million, it seems possible to remodel KeyArena to accommodate both pro sports teams.

The only problem is, the city doesn’t have a spare $285 million, and wouldn’t dare ask voters for it, especially since the costs likely will be much higher. Nor is Hansen, or any  private developer, interested in investing in a building on public land, as well as for a host of other reasons.

The port people were thrilled with the study by AECOM because it suggested an alternative that wasn’t considered by the EIS. But the report wasn’t taken seriously by the council because it can’t be seen opposing its partner. More importantly, there is no practical way to fund it, even if a hockey owner was found to share the second-smallest arena in pro sports.

It’s doubtful the council heard much that it didn’t already know. The council is obligated to respond to Hansen’s request for vacation, but it does have the option of granting it conditionally upon securing a team. But that’s barely a half-step, and pretty much where the project stands anyway.

In fact, deferring the decision is what longshore union attorney Peter Goldman told the council.

“A vote to defer,” he said, “does not hurt the arena or Sonics fans.”

What it does do is slow the project while speeding the calendar toward expiration of the  MOU in November 2017.

Knowing that politicians tend to take the path of least resistance, that may be the likeliest outcome of this phase of the project.

More stalemate.


YourThoughts

  • http://www.sonicsrising.com/authors/mike-baker Mr Baker, I just live here.

    I don’t know if they want to live with this in the state for an extended period of time. I think they may issue the street vacation and condition it to only be usable if a NBA or NHL team is secured. It sounds serious enough, but it’s truly meaningless. The street vacation can be executed without a team per the MOU. Street vacations have a purpose. This one is for an arena, and nothing else. If he can’t build an arena then the street reverts back to the city. This isn’t some unconditional gift.

    • art thiel

      Right. I think everyone understands that nothing gets touched until a team is in hand. The question for Hansen is whether the conditional OK is enough to produce an NHL partner will to accept an equity role in the arena.

      • soundersfan84

        Wouldn’t really have mattered if its a conditional okay or not. If the NHL group refuses to put money towards it, then they and the league are going to have to wait till a NBA team shows up. It annoys me that the NHL is still expecting a free handout.

        • art thiel

          I don’t see them expecting a freebie, I see them expecting a green light from the politicians on an arena. To do anything until then is foolish.

          • soundersfan84

            There is still the issue of lack of funding, its a two sided issue. Arena become shovel ready for a NBA team funding wise. NHL though still that issue of funding. And NHL is not helping in terms of the cost. Depending on how much hansen agrees to put towards a NHL first and how much the city/county are willing to agree too, it could still be 3/4 of a billion at least just for a NHL team to built it for said hockey team and that includes the cost of the team.

          • Count to 10

            A recent quote from an NHL exec indicates that some in the NHL are skeptical that any of the currently known ownership groups have what it takes to actually make the arena and team happen. We’ll see if that changes if the arena gets shovel ready. The next question is funding for NHL first. I think it’s safe to say that you can rule out any public bonds being issued for it. I wonder if the NHL, like the NFL, has a fund of some sort to issue a low interest loan to help fund it.

          • soundersfan84

            The city never said 100% private for NHL first or no change. They said reduce the cost or 100% private. And if the arena goes 100% private, the city will stand to lose some concessions. Key arena becomes a white elephant against a new arena within the city.

            Until we see a proposal to change the MOU be presented to the city, we have no idea what the SCC will okay with or not.

      • http://www.sonicsrising.com/authors/mike-baker Mr Baker, I just live here.

        I think he could have a gold shovel in his hands and still struggle to land an NHL partner for hockey 1st. The NHL asking $500m for expansion is way high, and may have backfired on them.
        Some people think a big time investor takes a loss to make this happen. The quaint notion of a billionaire benefactor isn’t a very reliable funding plan.
        It really does need to pencil out in any location, and so nobody gifted the NHL a filing fee last summer.
        Now the NHL is fishing for Seattle.
        Here is this tweet.
        https://twitter.com/nhltoseattle/status/710129040032595968

        • art thiel

          Many more questions surround the NHL’s position in the marketplace. All will be asked after Hansen asks for an MOU rewrite. One person’s opinion, however knowledgeable, doesn’t move any needles in Seattle.

      • LarryLurex70

        A LOT is riding on the (hopefully still) continuing discussions between Hansen and Victor Coleman. If those 2 can’t come to an agreement regarding the MOU, then, I fear this entire arena affair will eventually become a moot issue when other cities outside Seattle and Puget Sound get both the NBA & NHL’s attention with their brand new arenas. Las Vegas, anyone?

        Hey, Thiel, when’re you ever going to appear on Around The Horn?

    • Tanikahhoey


      “my .friend’s mate Is getting 98$. HOURLY. on the internet.”….


      two days ago new Mc.Laren. F1 bought after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k$ Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a days ..with extra open doors & now making over 87$, p/h.Learn. More right Hereo!318➤➤➤➤➤ http://GlobalSuperEmploymentVacanciesReportsWorld/GetPaid/98$hourly…. .❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:::::o!318…………

    • Tanikahhoey1


      “my .friend’s mate Is getting 98$. HOURLY. on the internet.”….


      two days ago new Mc.Laren. F1 bought after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k$ Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a days ..with extra open doors & weekly. paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over 87$, p/h.Learn. More right Hereo!337➤➤➤➤➤ http://GlobalSuperEmploymentVacanciesReportsWorld/GetPaid/98$hourly…. .❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:::::o!337……..//

  • The Cane

    I somewhat supported keeping old Key Arena in the picture, heck, I saw my first concert–Rush–there in 1980, until I read your piece describing the fact it would be the second smallest arena in the league. NO WAY either the NBA or NHL is going to jump on board that one. And I am not a big fan of seat size these days either, although that is a much smaller issue, obviously. But I think you misrepresent, arguably materially, the issue around the NHL “not being able to find a billionaire to partner with Hanson.” Just like you, perhaps, alluded to the fact by stating that there is not “visible” current plans for the NBA’s return that there might be at least discussions at times most of the public does not know about, you also most certainly left out arguably the BIGGEST NHL obstacle for potential owners right now–Hanson. It is clear you do have a rooting interest in this matter, and it has been for some time, and it is ultimately both with Hanson and the NBA. Everyone has a rooting interest in everything. But just own it.

    • Playhouse

      This is the thing. It’s known to anyone around or closely following the arena project(s) that each of the known private investors (and others not as publicly known) have looked at a Key remodel and walked away from it. The $285M is a rather low estimate for what needs to be done to make it close to viable (but ultimately, very small and, therefore, much closer and quicker to obsolescence), and the council’s arena consultant suggesting that the city could get a private partner who would pay for most or all of the remodel is ridiculously uninformed.

      And as much as arena opposition would like to paint it illegal against SEPA law that a Key remodel wasn’t included in the EIS, the remodel was considered and rejected per that law. As they explained in the EIS, they couldn’t do a remodel with the given floorplate, meaning a hefty expansion was necessary. When they looked at the environmental impact, the issues with trying to do this at the Center, and the cost, it made just as much sense, if not more, to consider a complete demolition of KeyArena and rebuild on the site. Opposition keeps acting like the traffic analysis of the Key site would have no bearing on the remodel, as well. SEPA law and municipal code has been followed here, no matter how much others try to speak otherwise into reality.

      As for Hansen being the obstacle to NHL, he still has yet to see a partner step forward to offer any significant contribution to the project for him to consider. The closest, Victor Coleman, has repeatedly said he wants to wait until the permitting for the arena is done before he has those kinds of discussions. Hansen also laid out his expectations of a hockey effort on the radio the other day, which seem far more reasonable than people are giving him credit, considering he’s the one that’s done all of the arena work.

    • art thiel

      I’ve spent a career attempting to be as impartial — not objective, but impartial — as possible. Sorry you missed it. I have had Hansen’s side and the opponents’ side criticize me for bias, more or less equally, which tells me more about my impartiality than you.

      Hansen himself has said that no credible person from the hockey world has stepped forward so far. Maybe the street vacation will trigger it. It could be that Hansen himself or his deal with the city has put the NHL off. But since you know better than me, I’m eager for your proof,

      • soundersfan84

        I understand the lack of a NHL first plan in the MOU. No one knows how well a NHL team will do in seattle. Most likely it won’t be an issue in terms of paying off that debt with out leaving the city on the hook but its the unknown of do they want to gamble and be wrong.

        As long as NHL group agrees to the same terms as hansen did (protecting the city from risk), i don’t see how 115 city 5m county and the rest is between hansen and the NHL group won’t work as the biggest issue at least to me is not how much in dept capacity is require but rather or not the city is protected from risk.

        I think the city would balk even if they are left on the hook for 5m on the arena cost. Again at least to me its not about the cost but rather the city will be protected.

        It doesn’t make things easier for the NHL group given they also have to pay for the team.

        • art thiel

          Risk protection is indeed the issue for the city. Hansen’s plan is as low-risk a proposal as the city has ever received for modern sports development. But it is not zero-risk. And it also gives pause to any NHL partner, who probably thinks the ROI is too small. Especially if the NHL continues to overvalue its expansion franchise fee.

          • soundersfan84

            And the NHL can’t blame hansen, city and the NHL group for their insane crazy idea that they should expect 500m for an NHL team. I hate the league’s attitude on this issue.

          • Playhouse

            The NHL wanted to use the opportunity to recalibrate its franchise values. In order to make your league seem rich and exclusive, what better way than to set a high price for admittance.

  • Jeff Shope

    The port of seattle and their unions is run by #%$%&%S to put it bluntly

    • Comrade Suge

      Yes, how dare the unions look out for their employee’s interests.

      • soundersfan84

        Now dare they not back up their claims. We asked for 4 years for them to back it up and they have yet to do it. The arena will not cause a doomsday scenario that will shut down the port. The only reason why jobs might be lost won’t be cause of the arena but cause of the port itself and their lack of ability to move cargo out of the port effectively.

        • art thiel

          You’re right about effective movement of cargo, but that’s been due in part to the history of losing battles with the council on matters such as the Lander Street flyover. The arena is seen as a final straw, which I don’t agree with. But there are economic forces at work here much bigger than the arena.

          • soundersfan84

            Even if the arena gets built in another city, they’ll still going to have problems. I get that the traffic issue needs to be address. But we aren’t exactly in the 90′s in terms of economy. It’s going to get more difficult to pay for such projects as now it requires everyone including the port to come together and address the issue. Per FEIS Hansen is required to put some money to lander street overpass, then there is that 40m transportation fund.

            There are other ways to improve the effectiveness of moving cargo and its not necessary got to do with ability to move said cargo to their destination outside the port but how to move cargo within the port.

            If they want to get better at moving cargo from within the port then they got to mechanize it and that will cost jobs. That should be a bigger worry for the ILWU than an arena.

            To be honest i think there is a way that everyone’s needs can be addressed. The mariners, Port of seattle, the railroad etc but lack of cooperation from the opponents to help address the issue is not helping.

          • art thiel

            The only way to draw cooperation is if opponents, the city and Hansen all throw in more money on a transpo solution for Sodo. I just don’t see that happening, at least in the forseeable.

          • soundersfan84

            My belief is the port of Seattle wants a blank government check at the tax payers expense.

          • joaquin telluride

            has the Port tried to ever QUANTIFY the amount of funds they want? Or is just an open vault that money is continually expected to be dumped into the foreseeable future?

            There is no transportation solution — unless you’re referring to the SoDo Traffic Study from almost 10 years ago? Which I would expect the SDOT would have made sure was one of the supplemental documents used in the final determination for the EIS.

            Or maybe that’s too old now, so all the guffaws back in 2012 referring to that report being the end all be all for SoDo is no longer valid?

          • joaquin telluride

            such as? Can you list/name the bigger economic forces? Or is that reserved and private? Like all the private meetings held by the Port and the Alliance?

            Or is it just a speculation of vague “bigger economic forces.”

          • art thiel

            Ofergawdsakes, read something besides sports.

            The supersized container ships. Widening of the Panama Canal. China’s financial instability. Drop in oil prices. Alliance between ports of Seattle and Tacoma.

            The Seattle economic world does not revolve around the arena project.

          • joaquin telluride

            oh got it. I thought you were talking about local larger economic forces working behind the scenes — like other businesses, coalitions, and groups.

            Yeah, welcome to the reality of life Port of Seattle. It’s not like it stays the same everyday.

            And it’s not like the Seattle economic world revolves around the Port of Seattle anymore.

    • art thiel

      Now there’s a response worthy of the republican debate.

  • joaquin telluride

    I’m perplexed. I think this is so ridiculous. From what I’ve read, the Port has provided ZERO PROOF for their claims of doom, gloom, ruin, and a loss of all Port jobs and traffic nightmares they keep spouting. The best they can do is have what looked to me like paid actors sit with a bunch of signs and spouting how awful traffic is? Please don’t tell me the Seattle City Council believes that kind of nonsense.

    I drive into SoDo from Bellingham at least once a week to pick-up supplies for my company. I’ve never had a traffic issue in SoDo. The only problem I plan for is getting through downtown Seattle on I-5, making sure I time my pick-ups based on the express lanes.

    And Key Arena for NHL and NBA? Don’t put it through another remodel. It’s tired. Let it be used for something of a higher value to the people of Seattle and Washington State. From what I’ve read, that AECOM report gave several other viable alternatives for Key Arena.

    • Comrade Suge

      Well, since you drive there once a week, I guess that makes you an expert.

      • soundersfan84

        That occidental that is being asked to be removed is not even being used by the port of Seattle. Everyone knows its a side street,

        • art thiel

          See answer above.

      • joaquin telluride

        I drive there to do business in Seattle. I’m sorry, you’re an expert because??????

        • Comrade Suge

          You’re the one making claims.

          • joaquin telluride

            I didn’t claim to be an expert. I do drive and I know traffic. And when I drive to SoDo, I encounter heavy traffic on I-5, I do not encounter any traffic slowdowns or jams in SoDo, actually, I do have to usually wait for one or two lights to turn green.

            That’s not a claim, that’s a fact.

    • art thiel

      I was there, and I recognized numerous people from the port and longshore union. Don’t add baseless speculation to the discussion.

      People who don’t want to believe there’s a traffic issue will base their opinion on personal anecdotes, like you did. Not especially persuasive.

      Where the port errs is having to stand its ground on the Occidental vacation, because it is a clearly inaccurate premise relative to traffic. But the job loss claim is more vague and unconvincing, so they are forced to argue against Hansen’s request that was made for the Kingdome and then Safeco. Tough spot,

      • soundersfan84

        If the port wants to argue traffic issue, then keep the issue about moving cargo from port to I-5 and only that. The city is trying to address that issue (lander street overpass) but again port is not really cooperating.

        its one thing to argue about an issue that will still exist with or with out an arena. But for them to say that removing one section of occidental will only cause more traffic, i think is a little farfetched imo. Its not like Massachusetts goes all the way through and over the BNFS rail line.

        I swear they act like the only way to go north and south is 1st avenue in seattle.

      • joaquin telluride

        okay Art. I would like someone to do some research on the recent hirings of PR folks by the Port in the past year. Also, is SaveSodo.org a PAC?

        I’ll speculate further that the people who showed up for the anti-arena group were paid to be there. Unlike the Sonics fans.

        • art thiel

          Both points are irrelevant to the issue. The port’s interests have never changed. They are just being smarter about their public position.

  • Comrade Suge

    For all you “Sonic” fans, where were you from 2000-2008? Oh that’s right, staying home. I was a Sonic fan but many of you seem to forget that the people who wanted to keep the team were a small minority. There was not an outpouring of grief, mostly indifference.

    • soundersfan84

      Seattle losing the sonics has nothing to do with the fans so stop blaming us.

      • Comrade Suge

        Not all of it but the fans weren’t exactly helping either.

    • art thiel

      The single biggest reason under Seattle’s control that the Sonics are not here is the I-91 vote in November 2007 that passed 72-28 that made mandatory a small profit to the city for leasing a public arena. There’s no such law anywhere else in North America. I don’t know if there’s 1 in 100 Sonics fans that gets that.

      • soundersfan84

        The biggest reason why we lost the sonics cause the NBA wanted seattle to pay for it again especially after the 1995 renovations that the NBA approved of.

        • art thiel

          Actually, Howard Schultz wanted the city to pay for it — again. And some people fancy him for high government office.

          • soundersfan84

            I included schultz as being part of the NBA wanting the city to pay for it again.

    • nine2six

      You imply that the Key Arena was mostly vacant during those years, which is simply not true. The average attendance was near or more than 90% for the Sonics:

      http://www.databasebasketball.com/teams/teamatt.htm?tm=sea&lg=n

      • Comrade Suge

        That was below the NBA average, try again.

        • nine2six

          The Key Arena’s NBA capacity was 17000. Check the numbers. Kthx.

          • Comrade Suge

            Yes, it was below the NBA average. Kthx

    • Playhouse

      That simply isn’t true. People mistake the stadium fatigue for some sort of lack of desire to support or keep the Sonics.

    • joaquin telluride

      First, no “Sonic” fan would write that.

      Second, they were the SuperSonics, it was never “Sonic” and there was a huge outpouring of fan support to keep the team.

      • Comrade Suge

        I have no idea what outpouring of fan support you are talking about. Where were the fans when over 70% of Seattle voters backed an initiative that pretty much killed any arena deal? People seemed more concerned with the Seattle Storm (and their future) than the Sonics. Those Save Our Sonics rallies had maybe a few hundred people at most. Hardly an outpouring of fan support.

        • joaquin telluride

          I voted against it, so did a 1/3 of Seattle according to you.

          What about fan support for Safeco and Century Link? Those initiatives were voted down by voters yet our government still found a way to build them with taxpayer money. I don’t recall Mariner and Seahawk fans putting on big rallies when those teams threatened to move. Oh, I know why, because the owners didn’t move them.

          But I can tell you’re no sports fan, and clearly know what you’re writing about. So whatever you write must be true.

          • Comrade Suge

            The Seahawks won a state vote and while the Mariners lost there vote, the lawmakers made it happen. The lawmakers and the voters were not on the side of the Sonics. Bad timing was another factor.

  • Count to 10

    Great article! Thank you. This does a great job of summarizing both sides of the issue. I really hope they don’t continue deferring the vote but that would be typical for our local politics. One of the things that has confounded me since the MOU came to light and the port first voiced its opposition is the hard line stance they’ve taken. There hasn’t been any (at least publicized) effort to try and find a cooperative way to make this work for everyone, especially after all the reviews and studies showed the Arena would have very little impact. Is this a case of the port backing themselves into a corner or making this issue a proxy for all of the other threats they are facing to compete for shipping traffic? If that’s the case, the Unions decision to slow operations and the ports decades long battle with the port of Tacoma have done more damage than the minimal arena traffic ever could.

    • soundersfan84

      They can’t defer the vote. They are required per MOU and by law to have a vote. So either approve it or don’t. If they don’t have a vote then they are in breach of contract.

      • art thiel

        Yes, the MOU requires a vote. Deferral is probably imprecise. The vote can be conditional. But even a conditional vote could be considered actionable by opponents, which is when the litigation will begin.

        • soundersfan84

          There will be lawsuits that is known. Every project of this size end up in the court room. Safeco field had a lawsuit. Heck, gold state warriors new arena plan has its lawsuit. Barclays arena in NY was delayed i think almost a decade due to lawsuits.

    • art thiel

      The port’s view of the issue’s history is that it has lost every land use/traffic battle to sports stadiums. Another loss, especially without the Lander Street flyover the city promised 15 years ago and then reneged, will strangle the port’s efficiency. The bigger question of whether the Seattle shoreline’s highest and best use is container shipping is left unaddressed.

      • soundersfan84

        I get the lander street overpass should have happened 16 years ago. Now Murray and SDOT are trying to get it done to address the issue but yet port still seems to be not be cooperating. If lander street overpass is going to be built the port is going to have to help. That lander street issue has to be addressed with or with out an arena. At least there are some funds being put towards it due to the arena.

        • art thiel

          My understanding is that there was $20M dedicated to Lander n the recent transpo tax package. The project is estimated to cost $120M. I’m eager to see how that little gap gets solved.

          • soundersfan84

            20m from city 5m? 7m? from state, some from hansen. I know if the port puts some towards it, the city can get federal matching funds.

            I am too. My feeling its everyone has to come together to address that issue. Like i said this isn’t the 90′s anymore in terms of how stable the economy is.

          • Count to 10

            Wasn’t there money in the MOU for the project? 20-40M of something like that?

          • soundersfan84

            That could go towards it but that arena has to be built for that 40m to exist.

          • art thiel

            No money exists in the MOU. Hansen was asked by the city design board to improve parking and add a pedestrian overpass. He did.

      • 1coolguy

        The Lander project should have been built and the Unions and Longshoreman, Port, etc only have the inept Democrat non-leadership to blame: Murray, Cantwell, the D mayor and the D governor FAILED 1000% in not getting this project funded and completed.
        And people vote for anyone with a D after their name on the ballot – total lemmings.

  • notaboomer

    At least the discussion never descended into something as vulgar and demeaning as a presidential debate.

    don’t you mean republican debate?

    • art thiel

      It’s about the presidency, not who is the best (worst?) R.

  • rosetta_stoned

    Team or no team. Arena or no arena.
    When I said I was done with the NBA, I meant it.

    Next.

    • art thiel

      You are not alone in profound contempt for the NBA.

      But were you eligible to vote on I-91 in 2007? If so, how did you vote?

      • soundersfan84

        The issue of i-91 just shows how broken the NBA model is.

        • art thiel

          Actually, it show how much of a minority the sports community is regarding more public investment in sports arenas.

          • soundersfan84

            Some government just don’t care about the public as long as they keep their sports team. See Sacramento arena deal.

          • MrPrimeMinister

            That vote–telling owners to shove off–was a great moment in the region’s history. Whether it was Schultz, bennet, stern, whoever. As a resident of this region, I was very proud of the citizens for standing up to the nonsense. Seattle had every right to be proud.

          • Playhouse

            This is a misunderstand of the law, though. They didn’t tell owners to shove off, even if most of the citizens who voted for it believed that’s what the intention was. The law says public money can be used. We just have to get it back plus a profit.

  • MrPrimeMinister

    I don’t understand the hesitancy of prospective owners to shell out for all the goods. Historically speaking, investment in a pro sports franchise has been one of the surest bets of all time. They NEVER go down in value. When an owners sells, he usually makes hundreds of millions of $$ in profit.

    • art thiel

      People said the U.S. housing market never would go down.

      • Edgar Martinez

        As long as we don’t go into a depression, I don’t see the value of pro sports franchises going down.

        • soundersfan84

          Pro sports franchise value will drop eventually.

          • Edgar Martinez

            They might level out. I don’t see them dropping anytime soon unless we have another deep recession

  • MrPrimeMinister

    Attendance capacity should not be an issue. Doesn’t matter whether they seat 13 thousand, 15k or 18k. The difference in gate is minimal, maybe a few million bucks. The TV money is in the BILLIONS trumps everything else. Key arena should be fine.

    • art thiel

      Gate is a bigger deal for NHL than NBA because TV revs aren’t in the billions. And if the Key remodel seats 15,900, expect to pay $100+ for nosebleed.

  • 1coolguy

    Does ANYONE really believe this CLOWNCIL, who just voted 7-2 to pay $1.4 million PLUS millions more ongoing for a bankrupt BIKE PROGRAM will have the spine to vote FOR the arena?
    No way.

    • art thiel

      Two different topics. No relationship.

      • 1coolguy

        I beg to differ Art – These are the same actors, so I do not trust them to make a choice that supports Hansen’s project, EVEN though ALL of an arena’s infrastructure, given the Clink and Safeco, are there: Great highway access, parking and nearby lodging and entertainment.

  • tor5

    I still can’t get past a root common sense that we have a serviceable arena in the Key and we shouldn’t toss it out and build a new shiny one just so rich people can get richer. If a remodeled Key isn’t good enough for the league or Hansen, that’s their problem. As much as I’d love to have the Sonics back, self-respect can’t bring me to be dictated to by scheming fat cats trying to sell me a “new car” when the old one just needs a tune-up. What am I missing?

    • joaquin telluride

      Nothing except both the NBA and NHL have said Key Arena is a non-starter because so many people have looked at it in the past and the numbers don’t pencil out.

      No potential ownership group of an NBA or NHL team has stepped forward with a proposal to remodel Key Arena at their own expense (or shelling out the majority of the expected remodel expense).

      The AECOM report gave a figure of $285 million and that was pretty much discounted immediately as a realistic figure by people who have looked at Key Arena for the NBA and NHL.

      Finally, traffic to Key Arena through Queen Anne would be a nightmare. Way more difficult than anyone is open to considering.

      I encourage you to learn more about Chris Hansen, the Nordstroms, and Wally Walker. They are the current owners of the land in the Stadium District. None of them meet the image of “fat cats looking for a new car.” These guys are committed to bringing back the Sonics. Whether they own the team or not.

      We need a shovel-ready arena first though, and that’s why the street vacation is necessary. It was done for the Mariners, it was done for Amazon, it’s been unanimously approved by all the City departments who’ve determined traffic will not be an issue.

      Also, the websites of King County and the City of Seattle have some good “Facts” on the proposed Stadium District arena — showing how both the County and the City have protected the tax payers on this project.

      • tor5

        I appreciate your thoughtful reply. I’m still bugged by the notion that every team, pro and college, in every league, always needs to have their very own new venue. No one can share anything. Every so many years you have to blow it up and build a new one. Is this now the fate of the Key? It may be the new reality, but that doesn’t make it sensible. It’s wasteful madness.

        • joaquin telluride

          I get that too, for me though, this deal is different in that it meets I-91 criteria (passed by the voters of Seattle in 2007 to make sure any investment in an arena or stadium going forward would give the City of Seattle a return on their investment). In addition, this $200 million isn’t coming out of the General Fund or an increase in sales tax/other taxes, it’s issued bond debt secured by the arena and it’s revenues and personally guaranteed by Chris Hansen. The City has also set up significant reserves (to be funded by Hansen) to be sure there is always $$ held for extra security.

          Hansen et al will also fund a $40 million traffic infrastructure fund to be used by the City of Seattle as it deems necessary. Many believe the City of Seattle will leverage this amount to obtain State and Federal matching funds to help cover the cost of building the Lander’s Street Overpass. Something that’s been identified as critical since 2006 (years before Hansen bought the land).

          I also think Key Arena is a remarkable and historically significant building and I don’t want to see it gutted again. Rather, I’d like to see it used for a different purpose and one that would make it more open and enjoyed by the people of Seattle, Washington State, and out of town tourists. Seattle Center is must see on the “what to do in Seattle” and it’s a shame Key Arena isn’t used for more year-end (daytime and evening) events and venues for the amount of people who visit Seattle Center each year. It should be a showcase and to me, putting the NBA/NHL there isn’t it’s best use anymore.

          Anyway, there’s a lot more behind this deal that is good and fair that for whatever reason, seems to be disregarded or go unmentioned.

          • tor5

            Good points. Thanks. While the Sodo proposal is better than most, I remain skeptical that, in the end, it will be a net negative for the city and port. Though your arguments are well informed and thought-provoking. And the Key… I still haven’t heard any viable, enthusiastic alternative plan for it. What a waste. Sad.

  • 1coolguy

    The problem with the Port’s opposition is the timing of events to occur at Hansen’s proposed arena: BB and hockey games are ALL played at NIGHT, other than those on Sunday, hours the Port’s traffic is minimal.
    Concerts are at night or the weekend.
    The ONE sport that clearly conflicts with port traffic is BASEBALL, so the port should lobby MLB and the M’s to schedule day games only on weekends.
    So from what I understand the arena’s use will be, there should be very, very little traffic conflict.

    • Sonics79

      Let’s not forget that at one point in time, the Mariners and the Sonics shared the same building. They can work the schedule out.
      You can’t restrict the M’s to play no weekday day games. Wednesday is usually ‘get out of town’ day for a road trip — they need the time for travel, especially here in South Alaska.
      Let’s also remember the NBA and MLB regular seasons only overlap for about two weeks in April. The only conflict could be when the Sonics are in the playoffs, and for playoff basketball (especially now), nobody would care about the traffic.
      Lastly, it seems 65,000+ gets out of the area just fine on Sundays in the fall.