Metropolitan King County Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee featured presentation and discussion with Chris Hansen Monday and the expert review panel that is advising the committee.
In May, Hansen reached a memorandum of understanding with County Executive Constantine and Seattle Mayor McGinn to construct a facility in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood with the ability to host NBA and NHL teams. This was Hansen’s first opportunity to address either of the two Councils that must adopt the agreement for the arena project to move forward.
Member questions to Hansen covered a number of topics ranging from ownership percentage to the size of the proposed arena, why the arena plan must be agreed to before teams are purchased, the cost of tickets, if public financing is needed and would Hansen be willing to send the proposal to County voters.
“If this deal moves forward, average citizens should be able to walk through those admission gates and enjoy a game or concert,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson. “The taxpayers are extending their credit to make this proposal work, and for that, they should be able to afford to go to a game.”
“Chris Hansen's personal passion for basketball and his commitment to bringing back the Sonics makes him the best advocate for this arena proposal,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer. “My job is to be the best advocate for the taxpayers of South King County and enable them to express their views on the matter by providing the opportunity to vote on the proposal to build this third arena in the SODO area.”
“Bringing the Sonics back to Seattle would provide great benefits to our community, but I have a responsibility to ensure we don’t harm other aspects of our community in the process by putting funds for police and basic government services at risk,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips. “I have asked that the taxpayers of King County be held harmless in this proposal, and while I appreciate Chris Hansen’s assurances and willingness to answer questions, I am looking for an independent analysis of the risks to taxpayers and any additional layers of protection that are needed.”
“Today’s meeting provided a good opportunity for Councilmembers to publicly discuss the arena proposal with Mr. Hansen and ask questions,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson. “My goal remains the same: bringing the Sonics back to Seattle while protecting the taxpayers.”
“Seattle has a long and proud history of professional men’s Basketball and Hockey as illustrated by the Supersonics 1979 NBA Championship and the Seattle Metropolitans winning the Stanley Cup in 1917. I would like nothing more than to play a part in bringing these sporting activities back to the region,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “That said, as a representative of the taxpayers I will continue to carefully evaluate this proposal as we move forward to determine if the County’s interests and thus our taxpayers are protected prior to making a decision either way.”
The meeting was also the first chance for members to hear from the independent panel formed by Councilmember Joe McDermott, Chair of the Budget & Fiscal Management Committee, to provide independent analysis of the plan. The members of the panel are experts in economics, public finance, public-private partnerships, labor, urban development and transportation.
“Today’s discussion was a productive one and continues the robust analysis that this committee and the council as a whole are undertaking to evaluate this proposal,” said McDermott. “I appreciate Mr. Hansen addressing Councilmembers’ questions and I particularly appreciate our independent panel for providing their time and expertise as we review the proposal before us.”