Arena initiative sponsors threaten lawsuit

Jul 5, 2012, 5:42 PM | Updated: Jul 6, 2012, 9:46 am
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By MyNorthwest.com staff

When Seattle voters approved I-91 in 2006, they
said the city must make money on any of public funds it
puts up for an arena or stadium.

The initiative sponsor says the city is considering a
lawsuit if it goes forward with Chris Hansen’s proposed
SoDo arena.

Chris Van Dyk says this deal does not meet the standard
set in I-91. He says the estimates show the city won’t
make money.

“This would lead to endless controversies and legal
challenges and we strongly urge you to get the pro sports
folks to put their money on the table and move this
forward,” Dyk said at a Seattle City Council meeting
Thursday.

Now, some councilmembers are coming forward to say that
Hansen’s proposed Memorandum of Understanding would need
to be amended if the plan
was going to move forward.

“We’re using tax money basically to pay ourselves back. So
that’s not a return,” Councilman Nick Licata told KING-5.

Hansen, whose patience started to sound like it was
wearing thin after the council meeting, has promised $300
million in private funds. The amount of public support
would be $200 million if an NBA and NHL franchise moved
here. He believes the city will get more than a 7-percent
return on its investment.

When it comes to building the arena, making concessions on
the plan, and investigating reports on the viability of
the project, he said he just wants it done fairly.

“My only request – and partial frustration –
is just make it fair and be honest. You may disagree, but
to actually hear the analysis in an incomplete way for a
political reason is not fair,” Hansen told The Kevin
Calabro Show
.

Many of the city’s findings, Hansen said, lack credible
evidence.

“If you’re going to leave certain revenue streams that the
city is going to get out of your calculation, well, of
course you can make it say whatever you want; that’s not
fair,” Hansen said. “If you’re the port and you’re going
to argue that all 6,000 of our [basketball fans] are going
to show up before 5 p.m., well, there is no substantiated
proof and common sense is not on your side.”

While Hansen may disagree with some findings so far, he’s
not going to give up that easily. He said he’s open to
negotiating before the council would officially vote “no”
on the arena plan.

Some sports pundits, like Brock
Huard and Mike Salk
– who are in favor of the
arena – think that while Hansen and partners have
enough money to finance the arena without public support,
they want the the city to have “skin in the game.”

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Arena initiative sponsors threaten lawsuit