Seattle's Preemptive Strike for an NBA Arena Up for Debate

With the prospects of an NBA team bolting for Seattle not looking great anytime in the near future, the Seattle City Council is debating a proposal that has been in the works since 2012.
April 25, 2016, 10am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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The former home of the Seattle Supersonics, which played in the KeyArena before moving to Oklahoma City in 2008.

Geoff Baker reports on the latest developments for a proposal to build a new NBA arena in Seattle's SoDo district. "A Seattle City Council transportation subcommittee [last week] decided 4-1 to forward the issue to a full-council vote May 2," reports Baker.

Baker reports more on the debate at the committee meeting, noting that the "at-times-spirited debate" of the hearing could indicate a close vote when the issue comes before the full council. The entire proposal hinges on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between developer Chris Hansen, the city, and King County, which "requires the acquisition of an NBA team to trigger up to $200 million in public bond funding for arena construction costs." Under the terms of a deal struck in 2012, if Hansen can't land a team by November 2017, the MOU expires. Seattle was one of the losers in a deal that allowed Milwaukee to jeep their NBA franchise. 

In a separate article, Josh Feit reports on a related angle in the story—the opposition of the Port of Seattle, which is concerned about traffic impacts in the SoDo district. According to Feit, the port's "longstanding, adamant stance against transforming the industrial lands in SoDo into commercial space" didn't stop it from putting out a memo last summer considering the idea of "moving its two offices, one at Pier 69 and one in SeaTac that house nearly 800 employees," to a location in SoDo. Feit notes that the port has since dropped the idea, and takes the port to task for the contradictions of its approach to SoDo.

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Published on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 in The Seattle Times
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