It's real, and the official announcement is happening now. $290 million private money, $200 million public contribution (county/city split), with guaranteed revenue to pay off the bond. Debt payments guaranteed, and the whole deal is contingent on getting both NBA and NHL teams.
As good a deal as any city has gotten in a long time. Details coming...
UPDATE: Honestly, objectively, and not just because I'm a hockey fan itching for an NHL franchise, this really does look like a damn good deal for the region and taxpayers. Assuming it actually happens.
Under the terms of the proposal introduced this afternoon by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine, a private investment group led by Seattle-born Chris Hansen, would put up $290 million toward building a new sports arena just south of Safeco Field, matched by a joint city/county contribution capped at $200 million. The city/county would own the arena, with its debt service paid through a combination of taxes generated by the facility, and rent paid by both the teams and the facility operator. In years where revenue falls short of the debt obligation, the teams and operator would be required to pay additional rent to cover the difference.
The city/county would issue a 30-year bond to finance its portion of the construction costs, and the teams would sign a 30-year lease with a binding non-relocation clause. Under the terms of the current proposal, the city/county would not issue its bond until both NBA and NHL teams have been secured. The whole proposal is designed to make the deal entirely risk-free to taxpayers. Hanson will lead the group to acquire an NBA franchise, and is working to secure a partner to acquire an NHL team.
When you count in the cost of acquiring the teams, we're looking at a $200 million public investment leveraging $800 million in private investment.
As for Initiative 91, which bars the city from using taxpayer dollars to subsidize an arena, Mayor McGinn emphasized that "I voted for it was well," and promised that any final deal would abide by the measure. To this end, an arena advisory panel is being appointed to review all the details.
So... will it happen? "This is not game seven," cautioned Constantine. "This is the tip off of the first game of the preseason." What we've got are the general terms of a proposed public-private partnership, and there are a lot contingencies before a penny is spent by either partner, the most obvious being, we need to acquire the teams.
Once those teams are acquired, and construction begins, the agreement requires that both the NHL and NBA teams play at Key Arena until the arena is completed.