Here is the official transcript of the interview session for Seattle mayor Mike McGinn and King County executive Dow Constantine:
DOW CONSTANTINE: I’m Dow Constantine, King County executive. I’m pleased to be here with the mayor. We had I think a really great meeting with the owners’ committees just this afternoon. I described to them my involvement as executive, our county’s commitment to the obligations we undertook in the memorandum of understanding passed unanimously by our county council last year and our continued commitment to that, and the enthusiasm in our community to have NBA basketball back.
I think that our group made an excellent presentation led by Chris Hansen of both the acquisition of the team, the construction of the arena and the great support that we had we have in our region for having a NBA basketball team back in our region.
Ultimately the owners will make a decision based on what they feel is best for the league, and I think that we made a very strong case that Seattle, King County and our region are an excellent place for the NBA to be, and Mayor McGinn, if you want to describe your view.
MAYOR McGINN: I’ll concur with what county executive Constantine had to say. We gave a presentation. The load was carried, of course, by Chris Hansen and the ownership team, reviewing what they were proposing and dealing with any questions as they came up. And we were there to express that Seattle supports bringing the NBA back to Seattle and that there’s the political and public support for that, and I do think it was a very positive meeting.
Q. What kind of questions did you get from the owners or what kind of questions did Chris Hansen get from the owners during this presentation?
MAYOR McGINN: I think the main thing was the questions came up at the end. Chris did a very thorough presentation, and they just wanted to dig into the details. You have to remember you reporters, like you, who have been covering this for a while and we’ve been deep down in it, for them, this was really their first exposure to a lot of it, so they just wanted to understand the nature of the deal primarily.
Q. Do you have a sense of what principles drive the decision of the league here? What have you gotten from them about this?
MAYOR McGINN: You know, you really have to speak to the league and the owners about that. Again, our primary purpose there was to demonstrate that we had between the city and the county political support for our agreement with the owners and the arena deal, and I think those are the types of things they were looking at was what was the nature of the deal, what’s the nature of the arena deal, and they just wanted to look into that a little bit and understand where we were coming from and where we were going.
Q. Do you get the sense from them if there were any particular concerns that they had about either Seattle’s bid or the government’s aspect of it?
DOW CONSTANTINE: Well, they clearly wanted to know that the two governments, the city and county governments, remained committed to the positions they took in the votes last year. We assured them that they did. We presented a letter from four of the county council members, for example, reiterating their support for the memorandum of understanding, and I verbally passed along that I had spoken to another four of them making that same commitment.
We were able to, I think, answer some of their questions about the political climate and the fan support for bringing the Sonics back, which is very strong. Chris Hansen had a great presentation about that, as well, Steve Ballmer finished up with I would ‑‑ something I would call energetic and enthusiastic, characteristically energetic presentation, and George Maloof also made remarks about the family’s interest in moving forward with the agreement that they had with Chris Hansen and his group.
Q. Were those the only people who spoke at the meeting then?
MAYOR McGINN: Yeah, I think that’s right. Those were the people that spoke, that’s right. And I would say that the point that, to echo what Dow is saying, Steve Ballmer’s comments were all the pieces are in place here to move ahead, and again, he was expressing his enthusiastic support as being a member of the ownership team.
Q. You mentioned that George Maloof spoke. Can you expand on that and what role he played in the presentation for Seattle today?
DOW CONSTANTINE: He simply reiterated the public information, which is he has an agreement with Chris Hansen and his partners for the sale of the Maloofs’ interest in the team. The rest of it I would leave to the Maloof family to describe to you.
But after owning that interest for so many years, it was ‑‑ I mean, just from a personal perspective as a fan of the NBA, touching to hear them talking about their long involvement with the league going back to his parents.
Q. Was there much discussion of Sacramento’s bid, and was there any discussion of whether the ‑‑ any questions to the Maloofs about whether they would consider that bid if this one didn’t work?
MAYOR McGINN: You know, again, I think that’s really something you should direct to the Maloofs themselves as to where they are. They did express strong support for moving forward with the deal that they’ve made with Chris Hansen, and of course in the nature of the presentation it was important to Chris Hansen to point out the advantages to Seattle as a marketplace and as a destination for the NBA.
DOW CONSTANTINE: One of the things that became more and more evident is there’s a lot more information and certainty around the Seattle proposal because it’s been under development for more than two years. It’s gone through the financial analysis, the political process, the real estate has been acquired, and so I think that Chris was able to show that, as Steve Ballmer alluded, that the pieces are in place in Seattle right now.
Q. What did the owners want to know about either Initiative 91 and what was going on with that, the appeal of the lawsuit that was dismissed, and any other, whether it’s environmental or any other potential slow‑downs for the arena, and what did you tell them?
MAYOR McGINN: I think the main question was they did want to know what the ‑‑ they were thoroughly briefed about what the process was with respect to the EIS and moving forward. They did have a couple of questions just procedurally as to what the next steps were, and I actually don’t recall that there were any specific questions on I‑91 and that was probably because Chris Hansen had done a presentation on why the deal met I‑91.
Q. You were saying that in this meeting the Maloofs were expressing their desire to move ahead with the Seattle deal?
MAYOR McGINN: Yes, of course. They’ve made a ‑‑ they’ve entered into a deal with Chris Hansen and his investor team to sell their share in the team and they were expressing support for moving forward with that proposal.