Wash. politician discusses plans for Seattle arena

Jun 13, 2011, 9:32 PM | Updated: Jun 14, 2011, 5:55 pm

By Jacob Thorpe, Special to 710Sports.com

Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens, appeared on the Kevin Calabro Show on Monday to discuss his plans to help bring the NBA back to Seattle. The city hasn’t had an NBA team since the SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008.

Hope, along with Rep. David Frockt, D-Seattle, is behind the bipartisan push for a multi-purpose regional facility; a building that could be used to house an NBA team and an NHL team.

Mike Hope

This is hardly the first time someone has pushed for a new arena in the city, but conventional wisdom has always held that Seattle taxpayers, who in the last 20 years have helped fund the building of Safeco Field and Qwest Field, would be reluctant to foot the bill, especially given the current economic climate.

“Tax increases and things of that sort just are not really on the table,” Hope said. “And that’s where David and I really started to talk about this … and I do believe that we have several different possibilities and that’s what the taxpayers will be looking at.”

One of those possibilities is to institute a Professional Athletes Fee, commonly referred to as a “Jock Tax,” which would require professional athletes from visiting teams to pay a fee to play in Washington State.

Hope estimates that the tax could raise Washington $20 million annually.

“I think, ‘Hey, you know what? Cleveland is doing it to our players, New York is doing it to our players, and we are not,’ ” Hope said, adding that Washington is one of four states with at least one team from the NBA, MLB or NFL that doesn’t implement the tax.

Hope mentioned bonds, seat licensing fees and a surcharge on the tickets as other potential ways to raise money.

“There’re a lot of different avenues that we can use,” Hope said. “That’s just one of many.

“But I think the most important piece is that the legislature has to have a product, something that’s tangible and viable that we can bring forward in the beginning of the next legislature session and push forward on that.”

The congressmen haven’t approached the NBA or NHL yet, citing the need to have a firm proposal. They are also waiting to decide on a place for the facility, saying that ultimately the future owner will have a great deal of input.

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