First, let's talk about the most interesting Freudian slip of this morning's press conference announcing big movement toward a new SoDo basketaball arena.
Counclimember Tim Burgess had just declared the long-awaited arena news to be "a great day for Seattle," and then a reporter had followed up by asking whether the announcement was, as a Seattle Times story put it, "a rebuke of [Mayor Mike] McGinn" over his earlier secret negotiations toward an arena deal.
Burgess tried to swat away the notion that today's council-negotiated deal represents a rebuke.
Except... Here's how Burgess explained the long process that led up to today:
"The executive proposes," Burgess said. "The legislator deposes."
"Disposes!" shouted Council President Sally Clark, correcting her colleague.
"Disposes," Burgess said, as everyone laughed.
(Perhaps that was the announcement of Burgess's potentially McGinn-deposing mayoral candidacy that people have been waiting for?)
In any case, just what is the current disposition of the arena deal?
Well. It appears we now have a concept that a majority of the city council—and even some Port of Seattle boosters—can support.
It involves a port-pleasing, $40 million "SODO Transportation Infrastructure Fund to address longstanding transportation problems in the area." There's also a Key Arena-lover-pleasing Environmental Impact Statement process, which will take over a year, consider alternate sites (including Key Arena!), and must be completed before any "transaction documents" are approved by the council. And, no matter what happens, there's now a "$7 million Key Arena Fund" to study the future of that site.
Plus! There's now "a personal guaranty" from Chris Hansen—the deep-pocketed basketball fan and investor who got this whole idea of a new SoDo basketball arena started—that he will cover "the City and County’s annual debt payments" in the event that arena-related revenues don't come in as expected. (As well as a requirement that Hansen's ownership group "double the security reserve if its revenue fails to meet expectations.")
Basically, most concerns that council members raised about the proposed deal appear to have now been addressed. We'll have more to say about this later on, but for now, wonks and arena-fanatcics, mark your calendars. The Council’s Government Performance and Finance Committee will consider this new version of the deal on Thursday at 2 p.m., after which the full council will likely vote to accept it on Monday, September 17 or Monday, September 24.