King County Council Approves Supersonics’ Arena Plan, City Council Vote Pending

On July 30, 2012, the King County Council approved the proposal by investor Chris Hansen to construct a $500 million multi-purpose arena, which is intended to bring the National Basketball Association and the Supersonics back to Seattle, and also to bring the National Hockey League to Seattle.  The plan calls for the facility to be constructed in the state’s largest transportation hub in SODO with nearby access to light rail and freeways.  The proposal approved by the City Council includes nearly $300 million in private contributions, as well as $200 million in public financing, which would be repaid through taxes generated by the arena.

The arena is estimated to generate at least 2,000 prevailing wage construction jobs, along with hundreds of full and part time jobs to keep the arena running.  Inevitably, the construction of the arena should also result in millions of dollars in other redevelopment projects in areas immediately surrounding the arena, which is good news for the construction industry.

Meanwhile, the Seattle City Council has demanded changes to the proposal, and apparently wants to ensure that a portion of the tax revenues generated by a new arena will help pay for local transportation improvements in areas immediately surrounding the arena.  The City Council is reportedly set to vote on the proposal on August 13, 2012.  While the Seattle City Council appears to be poised to squeeze every last penny out of the Hansen group, it seems farfetched that any rational member of the City Council would ultimately vote to turn away the $300 million private investment, which would likely result in abandonment of the project entirely or construction of the arena elsewhere in the region.

Reference: ESPN and Sonics Arena.

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