Monday a big day for proposed Seattle arena

Oct 15, 2012, 4:44 AM | Updated: 5:35 pm

As expected, both the King County Council and Seattle City Council have approved Chris Hansen’s plan to build a new arena in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood.

The county council voted 9-0 in favor of the plan to build the $490 million arena with $200 million in public help, clearing the way for Hansen to shop for an NBA team, and for the environmental review of the plan to begin. The city council voted 7-2 in favor.

“We are going to be financing it with the rent that is generated from the new arena. Again, this is a source of money that would not be existent if it were not for the existence of the arena,” explained county council member Kathy Lambert.

Both councils have said the plan must pass an environmental review before any money will be spent.

“We required that a full EIS (Environmental Impact Study) be done, that a comprehensive traffic impact analysis be completed and that it study reasonable alternatives,” said county council member Joe McDermott.

Hansen, a Seattle native and a big Sonics fan, approached Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn last year about building a new arena to attract an NBA team and hopefully an NHL team as well. KeyArena, where the Sonics played, is considered outdated and financially unviable.

Unions representing Port of Seattle workers detailed their plans to sue the city and county if they move forward with the deal.

The union says another sports venue in the SoDo area will erode maritime and warehousing businesses and threaten the livelihood of union members and other workers.

“The steps that we’re taking here in this legislation will make sure the transportation in the SoDo area, which is very near here, will remain open and accessible to our farmers and manufacturers throughout the state,” said Tim Burgess.

The unions say the city and county violated state law by refusing to perform an environmental review of the proposed arena before signing a deal.

Attorney Peter Goldman says other sites needed to be considered before moving forward. (Read more with Goldman)

“Do this fair and square consistent with state law, no fingers on the scale. We’re blowing the whistle now because a foul has been committed. We’re not going to wait until the end of the game to start calling fouls.”

The unions will have 21 days to file the suit once the mayor and county executive sign the agreement.

Hansen will join McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine for the signing of the legislation Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.

“I thank the city and county councils for their hard work and their approval of the arena Memorandum of Understanding. This is another important step toward bringing the Sonics back to Seattle,” said McGinn.

KIRO Radio reporter Chris Sullivan contributed to this story.


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Monday a big day for proposed Seattle arena