AGC members got an insiders look at the arena deal reached by the Seattle and King County Councils and Chris Hansens ArenaCo at todays AGC Seattle District Membership Meeting.
Seattle City Councilman Tim Burgess and King County Councilman Joe McDermott discussed many of the specifics of the deal the priorities of the respective councils and the steps taken to reach this point in the process.
One of the more intriguing aspects of the deal doesnt involve the new arena at all but involves the near-term use of Key Arena. Under the agreement ArenaCo will be responsible for making upgrades to Key Arena to host an NBA and possibly NHL team during the period of construction for the new arena. Burgess said this increases the likelihood that the city would have an NBA team playing in Seattle as early as next season.
Both Councilmembers stressed that timing is important and that a deal has to allow Hansen to be ready to move when the NBA puts a team on the auction block. Burgess and McDermott said they understand that too much back-and-forth between the city and county could draw out the process and hinder this ready to move objective. McDermott said he is confident the city and county can work out any differences they have over the proposed deal.
The new agreement also creates a $40 million SODO Transportation Infrastructure Fund to address longstanding transportation problems in the area. The Fund will initially be a collaboration between the City and County but additional funding will be sought from other public and private partners including the Port of Seattle and state and federal governments. The City will begin an area-wide planning process to strengthen land use protections for industrial lands including the creation of a Port Overlay District.
The MOU clarifies the environmental review process by requiring an examination of alternative sites including the Seattle Center and stating that final City Council adoption of transaction documents will only come after the EIS process is fully completed.
Burgess Chair of the City Councils committee that analyzed the agreement told AGC that he strongly believed that public money should be used for broader public purposes. The negotiated changes allow us to address long-standing transportation problems preserve good jobs and protect Seattles taxpayers Burgess said. The new agreement demonstrates how healthy skepticism paired with collaboration and good governance can lead to wonderful opportunities for the public.
For more information about the arena deal see these Frequently Asked Questions and Answers prepared by the Seattle City Council.
(Photos: Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess top. King County Councilmember Joe McDermott bottom.)