The Seattle City Council voted to approve an agreement with investor Chris Hansen to build a $490 million sports and entertainment arena in Sodo.
Council members praised the revised agreement as providing significant protections for the public’s $200 million contribution and providing a revenue stream to address transportation issues in Sodo and the future of KeyArena.
“This is about a can-do spirit looking to the future and grabbing an opportunity that has been presented to the city,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess.
The vote was 6-2, with Councilmembers Richard Conlin and Nick Licata voting no. Conlin said the taxes generated by private business should go to public needs, not a private enterprise such as a for-profit sports arena.
Licata said he didn’t want to support huge public subsidies for a private business that doesn’t provide measurable public benefit.
The complex financial agreement now goes to the King County Council for ratification. County Councilmember Bob Ferguson said: “Basketball and hockey fans in our region reason have reason to cheer today, with the Seattle City Council approving a revised MOU (memorandum of understanding), but the final buzzer hasn’t sounded yet. In order to move forward with the proposed arena, all three parties – City, County, and private investors – must reach a final unified agreement.”
In a prepared statement, Hansen praised Seattle’s elected officials for working diligently on the proposed deal: “I think that today’s vote demonstrates that by listening to each other and working hard to address the concerns of all stakeholders that we can make the arena a reality and bring professional basketball and hockey back to Seattle.” He acknowledged that there is still much more work to do.