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April 22, 2009 at 3:12 PM

NBA to return to Seattle?

SaveOurSonics.jpgOrganizers with Save Our Sonics are feeling upbeat this week with Senate Bill 6116, which is sponsored by Senators Ed Murray and Jeannie Kohl-Wells. It passed through the Senate Ways & Means Commission last weekend and seems to have enough support to make it through the Senate and House before the legislative session closes Sunday.
The bill, which would also aide youth recreation and the arts among other government projects, also ensures the City of Seattle receives the $30 million payment from Oklahoma NBA owners if a replacement team locally is not acquired in five years.
Some may be bitter about the way the Sonics departed to OKC, but this is $30 million back in the coffers. You have to support that, right? Read more from the SOS press release below:

Last Chance for Seattle to Collect $30M Settlement in State Leg. as Session Ends Sunday
Bill expected to clear Senate, then moves to House as future of Seattle Center hangs in balance


SEATTLE, Wash. – April 22, 2009
Save Our Sonics (SOS) encourages citizens to contact the State Legislature and express support of Senate Bill 6116 by calling the Legislative Hotline at (800) 562- 6000. Callers should demand similar legislation be sponsored in the House of Representatives.
SB 6116, sponsored by Senators Ed Murray and Jeannie Kohl-Wells, passed through the Senate Ways & Means Commission last weekend. The bill would qualify the City of Seattle to receive a cash payment of $30 million from the Oklahoma based ownership of the former Seattle SuperSonics if a replacement team is not acquired in five years. According to SOS co- founder Brian Robinson, the bill appears to have enough momentum to get through the Senate. The question remains whether similar legislation will be able to clear the House before the State Legislative Session ends on April 26.
“This is a great opportunity to get $30 million for our city with essentially no downside,” Robinson said. “There is no state money involved. The bill simply refines the distribution of tourist taxes collected exclusively in King County for use on important projects in Seattle and throughout the county.”
SB 6116 would allow King County to extend and use current restaurant and car rental taxes on such projects as youth recreation, the arts, low-income housing and regional public facilities such as Seattle Center.
“It would be a travesty for this bill to stall and allow Clay Bennett to keep $30 million in his pocket,” Robinson said, noting that this cash payment represents 70 percent of the City’s 2009 deficit, projected to be $42 million. “Collecting this money while ensuring the civic future of Seattle Center has to be a priority for our elected officials.”
Passage of SB 6116 will:
–Save Seattle Center – The City of Seattle currently has no funding source in place for the unanimously approved Seattle Center Century 21 Master Plan, a $570 million public infrastructure project that will bring the grounds into the modern era over the next 20 years.
–Create Jobs and Economic Stimulus – A modern Seattle Center with additional funding for arts and cultural centers all over King County will create thousands of jobs and increase tourism from out-of- towners, providing a crucial infrastructure investment during this recession economy.
–Attain Private Investment in Public Facilities – A local investment group led by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer promised to contribute $150 million plus cost overruns in private money toward a $300 million remodel of KeyArena and buy a new NBA team for Seattle. The entire region benefits by getting a massive public works project for only 25% of the full cost, with 50% from Ballmer and the final 25% coming from a ticket tax on KeyArena events.
Seattle Center Master Plan
Quotes from the Seattle Center Century 21 Master Plan:
–Even without the Sonics/Storm, the KeyArena will require capital investments of at least $20 million to be a competitive non-major league arena.
–Severe space limitations for storage, building load-in and load-out, and back-of-house spaces required to host major concerts, family shows, circuses and other events make the building more expensive and less efficient to operate. This adversely affects KeyArena’s financial potential because it adversely affects the cost to the promoter of playing the KeyArena.
–KeyArena patrons and businesses created $353 million in business activity, 3,252 jobs and $102 million in labor income in King County in 2005. State and local governments received $13.3 million in tax revenues as a result of the business activity at KeyArena in 2005.
–At 368,000 square feet, KeyArena was the smallest arena in the NBA and is about one-half the average square footage of an NBA arena (700,000 to 750,000).
–For the last six new NBA only arenas, 80% of funding was public.

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