Updated Jul 6, 2012 - 9:46 am
Arena initiative sponsors threaten lawsuit
When Seattle voters approved I-91 in 2006, they said the city must make money on any of public funds it puts up for an arena or stadium.
The initiative sponsor says the city is considering a lawsuit if it goes forward with Chris Hansen's proposed SoDo arena.
Chris Van Dyk says this deal does not meet the standard set in I-91. He says the estimates show the city won't make money.
"This would lead to endless controversies and legal challenges and we strongly urge you to get the pro sports folks to put their money on the table and move this forward," Dyk said at a Seattle City Council meeting Thursday.
Now, some councilmembers are coming forward to say that Hansen's proposed Memorandum of Understanding would need to be amended if the plan was going to move forward.
"We're using tax money basically to pay ourselves back. So that's not a return," Councilman Nick Licata told KING-5.
Hansen, whose patience started to sound like it was wearing thin after the council meeting, has promised $300 million in private funds. The amount of public support would be $200 million if an NBA and NHL franchise moved here. He believes the city will get more than a 7-percent return on its investment.
When it comes to building the arena, making concessions on the plan, and investigating reports on the viability of the project, he said he just wants it done fairly.
"My only request – and partial frustration – is just make it fair and be honest. You may disagree, but to actually hear the analysis in an incomplete way for a political reason is not fair," Hansen told The Kevin Calabro Show.
Many of the city's findings, Hansen said, lack credible evidence.
"If you're going to leave certain revenue streams that the city is going to get out of your calculation, well, of course you can make it say whatever you want; that's not fair," Hansen said. "If you're the port and you're going to argue that all 6,000 of our [basketball fans] are going to show up before 5 p.m., well, there is no substantiated proof and common sense is not on your side."
While Hansen may disagree with some findings so far, he's not going to give up that easily. He said he's open to negotiating before the council would officially vote "no" on the arena plan.
Some sports pundits, like Brock Huard and Mike Salk – who are in favor of the arena – think that while Hansen and partners have enough money to finance the arena without public support, they want the the city to have "skin in the game."
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