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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

June 26, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Conlin: Sodo arena doesn’t warrant public investment

Seattle City Council member Richard Conlin is the first elected official to oppose the new arena proposed for the Sodo neighborhood. In an email response about the proposed $490 million sports and entertainment arena, Conlin concludes, “On balance, I think it is unlikely that this proposal will be approved.”
Conlin’s email was forwarded to followers of the Bob and Groz show on ESPN 710 sports radio with the message “Want to get really upset?”
The Seattle City Council took testimony from arena-backer Chris Hansen last Wednesday. Conlin asked the most pointed questions and seemed the least satisfied with Hansen’s answers. Both the City Council and King County Council must sign off on the proposed agreement for the project to move forward. In his email, Conlin questions Hansen’s request for $200 million in public financing to help pay for the arena.
“I have seen no evidence that justifies making a public investment, nor any serious reason why a public investment is necessary for the project to proceed,” Conlin wrote. He also questioned whether the proposed 30-year non-relocation agreement for an NBA or NHL team is any stronger than the lease the Sonics broke to move to Oklahoma City in 2008.
Conlin urged arena backers to lobby Hansen to fund the new arena entirely with private money. To add insult to injury, Conlin misspells Hansen’s name throughout. Conlin couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

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