Updated Apr 16, 2012 - 6:38 pm
Arena panel meets with King County Council
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The group's primary focus is assessing risk to taxpayers and the feasibility of Chris Hansen's proposal, which includes $290 million in private investment. The city and county would contribute $200 million, which would be repaid through taxes and rent generated by the arena.
NBA Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens told the council he remains impressed by Hansen's plan to build a new arena with the intent of hosting the NBA and NHL.
"I have not seen an owner make the kind of proposal he has made. In fact, I was a little surprised myself that they're willing to set up a fund to protect the city and county," Wilkens said at the presentation Monday.
On April 5, just a day after the panel presented its finding to the City of Seattle, Hansen announced he would pay for a traffic study. The Mariners and Port of Seattle have expressed concerns over another arena in the SoDo neighborhood, saying that it would create a traffic nightmare.
Maud Daudon, panel member and Interim President and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, said a new arena may actually prompt action in the neighborhood.
"There are some unfinished transportation projects in the SoDo area that perhaps this will be an opportunity to tackle; there could be a benefit to the stadiums there already," Daudon said.
Traffic challenges were apparently some of the major roadblocks to taking over the KeyArena site, which the city offered to Hansen.
"The transportation issues were the stumbling block, as far as he was concerned. There are some significant challenges to a modern day arena being situated on that site," Daudon said.
While Daudon seemed encouraged about possible traffic solutions in SoDo, she said there are still unknowns about who will cover specific costs associated with the project.
"We recognize as a panel that there's a variety of processes ahead. The devil is in the details and there are many to be still hashed out," Daudon said.
Meanwhile, Seattle NBA fans are wondering which team would actually move to the city if Hansen secures an arena. A tentative deal for a new arena in Sacramento fell apart last week, leaving open the possibility the team's owners could again try to move from California's capital.
"Is the deal dead? As we know it, absolutely," Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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