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Port workers call for arena slowdown

A Seattle City Council committee is expected to approve a deal to build a new sports arena in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood on Thursday. But a group of port workers is calling for the process to slow down.

“I don’t know why they have to do it so fast given that they don’t even have a team yet,” said Jordan Royer, Vice President of External Affairs for the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.

A number of port related groups have voiced opposition to the arena proposal, arguing it would cause significant problems for transportation in the area, ultimately hurting businesses and costing jobs.

Royer said a number of promises made at a press conference Tuesday by City Council members announcing approval of a Memorandum of Understanding with investor Chris Hansen don’t ring true.

“The people that wrote the MOU are not the people who wrote the public statements at the press conference but they don’t jibe, they don’t match up,” Royer said.

Council president Sally Clark disagreed.

“The new and improved agreement with Mr. Hansen makes this a sound step for Seattle,” said Clark. “We set out to make sure the general fund is protected, freight mobility is helped, and that we have help in charting the future of Key. We achieved these goals.”

Even if the Seattle City and King County Council’s both approve the MOU as expected, it still faces a lengthy review process that could take at least a year before construction can begin.

“The negotiated changes allow us to address long-standing transportation problems, preserve good jobs and protect Seattle’s taxpayers,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess, Chair of the Council’s committee that analyzed the agreement.

“We’re not trying to stop the whole thing from happening by any stretch. We just think the process could be improved a bit. More transparency,” Royer said.

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