The King County Council voted Monday afternoon 6 to 3 to approve its Memorandum of Understanding and amendments for the $490 million SODO sports arena proposed by investor Chris Hansen.
The council added a couple amendments to its MOU to include obtaining the rights to the name Seattle SuperSonics, any trademarks, history or memorabilia from Clay Bennett (the current owner of the Oklahoma Thunder, former Seattle SuperSonics).
Another amendment from Councilperson Julia Patterson included adding 1500 tickets (500 at $10 and 1000 at $20 of less) "so everyone can enjoy."
Patterson, who represents downtown Renton, Cascade and the industrial area of Renton along with other communities made it very apparent "this is the first step and not the final vote," she said.
The county's MOU now goes to the city of Seattle for their viewing. It will be there where changes could be made and voted on again. Patterson advised all who attended the meeting "the arena will not be built with the council's vote today."
Council person Regan Dunn who represents Kennydale, Highlands, East Renton and Fairwood said he could not support this plan. "I am hung up on the location and the Port of Seattle, we need the studies to be done first and I can't support what I can't see."
"Hopeful next time with the EIS and traffic study I can support this, but i can't do it today," Dunn said.
Just hours before the county council meeting the city of Seattle council (not signing Bruce Harrell) sent a letter to Hansen asking him revisit the proposal and address some areas of concern, including: financial risks against the city/county; public debt; the split of tax revenues; impact on transportation and shipping; lack of a confirmed business plan; management of KeyArena.
Council members also want Hansen to fully disclose the members of his investment group. To date, Hansen has revealed Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Erik and Peter Nordstrom are among the investors, but has not identified anyone else in the group.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn's office provided a statement about the letter, "the mayor and his team, including outside experts, worked for months to craft an agreement that protects the public from financial risk. The mayor respects the (city) council's work to perform their due diligence. It's important that they understand the deal before they vote on it. But it would be a mistake to pass up the opportunity for hundreds of millions of dollars of private investment in Seattle. Other cities are looking to see if Seattle will trip and turn away this investment. An arena outside of Seattle would be devastating to the Key Arena and would negatively affect tax revenues to our city. With Chris Hansen, we have a private investor motivated to help Seattle with the Key. That would not be true if an arena is built elsewhere, like Bellevue."