Been meaning to comment on this editorial in which the Seattle Times once again voices more than a bit of skepticism about a proposed arena deal that would bring both NBA and NHL franchises to Seattle.
It is easy to get caught up in the rally-like atmosphere surrounding the announcement of the arena. But the wiser course is tough questions and rigorous analysis.
"No thanks" may be the right answer.
Okay. Fair enough. Can't argue with taking a careful and rigorous approach to what would be a major public/private investment. If the guarantees promised taxpayers don't pencil out and/or if the impact on SODO would cost more good jobs than the arena creates, then I would oppose this deal. So I'm all for thoroughly vetting it.
But... I do find it curious to see the Seattle Times positioning itself as the voice of caution considering its editors were such shameless whores for previous arena proposals. For example, in their most recent editorial:
The problem with these kinds of endeavors is they create momentum of their own. The arena could potentially roll through city and county governments on a sports high, rather than under the pressure of hard-knuckled due diligence, which is what is needed from both governments.
Yet with only one week left in the 2008 special session, these same editors urged the legislature to quickly pass a stadium tax extension so as to accommodate a last minute Sonics proposal from a couple of local billionaires:
It is never good for a city to lose a major sports team. If the Legislature can find the time and gumption to authorize the county to proceed, this is the best solution so far for a nagging civic problem.
And while I agree that "Financial questions abound," and surely need to be thoroughly addressed before any deal is signed, I have a hard time squaring that with the editors' relentless shilling for a 2007 arena deal that would have had Seattle taxpayers picking up the bulk of the cost of building the Oklahomans a half-billion dollar hoops palace in Renton.
Mystery financier Chris Hansen's proposal is far better than the arena deals the Seattle Times urged lawmakers to jump at back in 2007 and 2008. So what's changed between then and now? There's the SODO location of course, and there's the altered fiscal reality of the post-Great Recession era. But I think this little tidbit is a dead giveaway as to what's really going on:
Mayor Mike McGinn seems to think he will get re-elected if he pulls off a new sports facility.
And there you have it. If it looks good for McGinn then it's gotta be bad.