Newest Lawsuit to Halt the Seattle Arena Will Not Last Long In Court.

The latest objection to the SODO Arena deal is that it isn’t I-91 compliant. For those of you who don’t know, Initiative-91 requires that the City of Seattle must get a “fair return” even on any arena/stadium deal it enters. I-91 was created by Public Stadium Financing Critic Van Dyk’s group, Citizens for More Important Things. It should be noted that Van Dyk opposed the Key Arena renovation that former Sonics owner Howard Schultz proposed; he also opposed Clay Bennett’s bogus Renton Arena plan.

The fact that the co-founder of Citizen’s for More Important Things embraces Hansen’s SODO Arena plan, does not bode well for this lawsuit. Hansen’s MOU with the Seattle City Council and the King County Council guarantees more than a “fair return”. For more detail on what the MOU covers I would direct you to an earlier post that I wrote. That being said, here are some of the gains the City gets from its $120 million investment in the new arena;

  • Hansen and his group have to put in $2 million into sprucing up Key Arena during the New Sonics two-year stay. If the Seattle Storm decide to stay in the Key, Hansen and his group have to add another $5 million into Key Arena (making the total $7 million). 
  • $40 million dollars of the Admission tax revenue (the same tax revenue going to pay off the construction bonds) will be diverted to traffic improvements in the SODO Area.
  • For the first five years of the Arena’s life, Hansen’s ownership group will make up any shortfalls in the Arena’s operating budget.
  • If for some reason Hansen and his ownership group were to go bankrupt, the team and the arena would default to the City.
  • A 30-year iron clad lease, that would prevent the relocation of any of the tenants.
  • The requirement that Hansen and his ownership group will be responsible for the maintenance and any modifications to the building it self.

As a result of these concessions, Chris Hansen and his potential ownership group have won over the majority of the people who hate public funds going into a private arena. Yet some how, some way, someone has not done their research and is risking a rather large amount of cash by suing the City.

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