An old group with a new name is attempting to block an NBA arena from being built in SoDo, saying that if a Sonics arena was built in the Seattle neighborhood it would cost taxpayers $731 million.
Sonics without Subsidies includes some of the same faces involved with the Initiative 91 fight, according to KING 5 reporter Chris Daniels who joined the Morning News on KIRO Radio.
Attorney Cleveland Stockmeyer, who represented arena foes in the previous lawsuit that attempted to stop the Seattle arena, is heading up the charge again.
According to Daniels, when the I-91 case was thrown out of court by a judge, the Sonics without Subsidies group spent $15,000 on a study to look at all the numbers as well as the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU.) As a result of that study, they believe, based on tax credits and property tax credits, that the cost to taxpayers is $731 million.
"City Hall, city leaders, the incoming mayor Ed Murray all declined to comment on this," says Daniels, "because the group did not hand over that study until after they made the press conference presentation yesterday (Tuesday.)"
City leaders, including current Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, have maintained that the multi-million dollar proposal made by arena investor Chris Hansen has been thoroughly vetted and that Hansen would pick up any cost overruns in the case of a budget shortfall.
While there had been earlier cause to speed up the environmental review when the Seattle investment group was bidding for the Sacramento Kings last spring, the project has since slowed considerably.
The environmental review is on-going, and Daniels has heard that it won't be compiled by the Seattle Department of Planning and Development until the summer of 2014.
Daniels said Hansen's group has done some pre-development work, but the environmental review is also looking at KeyArena, Memorial Stadium, the Seattle Center grounds as a whole, as well as what the city would have to pay if changes were to be made and what transportation would look like.
"What the Hansen group has already said is, 'We'll put $40 million into transportation in SoDo if that's where the arena goes,'" says Daniels. "But a lot of people don't believe that's enough."
Daniels says the Sonics without Subsidies group believes they'll be able to revive an I-91 lawsuit again when the environmental review is complete.