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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bellevue Developers Rail Against Using Public Monies to Build a New Arena in Sodo, Instead of, You Know, Using Public Monies to Build a New Arena in Bellevue

Posted by on Wed, Sep 19, 2012 at 5:23 PM

Bellevue developers Skip Rowley and Bob Wallace are angry that limited public financial resources are being used to subsidize a Sodo arena... when they could be used to subsidize a Bellevue arena.
  • Bellevue developers Skip Rowley and Bob Wallace are angry that "limited public financial resources" are being used to subsidize a Sodo arena... when they could be used to subsidize a Bellevue arena.

In a hilariously hypocritical letter mailed to Eastside "community leaders," influential Bellevue developers Skip Rowley and Bob Wallace rake two Republican King County Council members over the coals for voting to approve the use of "limited public financial resources" to build a new arena in Seattle's Sodo neighborhood instead of, you know, using limited public financial resources to build a new arena in Bellevue.

"The recent debate over a new arena in the Sodo area of Seattle demonstrated that our elected officials are out of touch with the people who elected them, " Rowley and Wallace angrily write. "Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert ignored the interest of their constituents in order to support the arena."

So, who exactly are Hague and Lambert's constituents? Rowley and Wallace, of course. And what exactly are their interests...?

Lambert and Hague's support of the Sodo arena damaged efforts by Bellevue officials to build a new arena on the Eastside.

One of the arguments against building a Sodo arena is that it would doom the city-owned KeyArena, leaving taxpayers with a money-losing white elephant. But as this letter makes clear, KeyArena—already on the downslide toward the end of its 25 to 30 year lifespan—is doomed regardless. Rowley, Wallace and others started planning an Eastside arena the minute the Sonics left for Oklahoma City, a facility they doubtlessly expected to be funded through a substantial public contribution.

This, of course, is what makes the entirety of the Rowley/Wallace letter so utterly laughable. They decry the Sodo arena as "a sweetheart deal for the developer at taxpayer expense" when that is exactly what they were shilling for in Bellevue. They bemoan how "cities and counties are strugglingly to pay for basic services," while consistently supporting the Republican anti-tax agenda. They accuse Hague and Lambert of making a secret "backroom deal" when they and their exclusive club of Eastside developers are masters of the art.

Ironically, insiders tell me, these personal attacks against Hague and Lambert are only steeling their resolve. And with a new and improved Memorandum of Understanding coming before the council for final approval, it's hard to imagine how the two could justify flipping their votes without coming off as mere puppets of the Wallace/Rowley/Freeman Eastside developer cabal.

It's not often we get to view such hot Republican-on-Republican action. So enjoy it while you can.


Comments (16) RSS

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Free Lunch 1
Wasn't it Hansen's call to build it in Seattle? He's the force behind this whole thing, and the guy who's writing the check. Doesn't sound like he even considered Bellevue.

If these Bellevue developers were the slightest bit enterprising, they could have approached the Bellevue city council with their own plan long ago. Did they?
Posted by Free Lunch on September 19, 2012 at 6:06 PM · Report this

I really don't know why all these cities like Bellevue, Kent and so on stay as part of King County.

The KC Council did absolutely zero except rubber stamp plans to cram yet another traffic obstacle in downtown Seattle when the arena belongs any place but.

It's bad enough having a state Government that doesn't serve the 5.4 million who aren't in Seattle, but why should we subject ourselves to an extraneous layer that does things not in the exurbs best interests.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on September 19, 2012 at 6:30 PM · Report this
"KeyArena—already on the downslide toward the end of its 25 to 30 year lifespan—is doomed regardless"

Wait a minute: the Key Arena was (re)built in 1995, making it 17 years old. And that puts it on the downslide towards the end of its life? That is an interesting way of reframing - basically, anything that is past the half-way mark of its planned lifespan is on the downslide, and thus doomed? Way to round up! We might as well call these buildings "disposable arenas", just like disposable cups and plates.

Good thing we don't yet think that way about people... There's just something disturbingly short sighted and unsustainable about this kind of growth.
Posted by Jude Fawley on September 19, 2012 at 6:47 PM · Report this
Dougsf 4
@2 - If you've got a better way for your suburb to include public transportation, expand its police force, and provide basic services to all its unincorporated neighbors (just for starters)—all funded in large part more economically dense parts of the region, I'm sure the city council would be interested in hearing about it.

Bellevue developers: Stop pouting. Just because your older brother gets a car doesn't mean your parents love you any less.
Posted by Dougsf on September 19, 2012 at 6:49 PM · Report this
MrBaker 5
Nothing has stopped them from presenting their own plan over the past 4 years except the fact that they don't have a plan.
The endless rumors over the past two years that "anytime" they were going to roll out their big plan amounted to nothing.
The fact is that they would have required more than backing bonds, they needed actual public cash subsidy, and they fucking know it.
Posted by MrBaker on September 19, 2012 at 7:19 PM · Report this
ChadK 6
@ 2 - Nobody cares about your babbling ruminations, Bailo.
Posted by ChadK on September 19, 2012 at 8:10 PM · Report this
In the unlikely event that the Eastside ever gets a team, I hope Seattle will sue to prevent them from using "Seattle" in the name. No one gives a shit where "Bellevue" is at a national level. Fuck, "Tacoma" is a punch-line for not being Seattle.
Posted by Tyler Pierce on September 19, 2012 at 8:15 PM · Report this
pragmatic 8
@2 Put a loaded gun in your mouth and pull the trigger.
Posted by pragmatic on September 19, 2012 at 8:48 PM · Report this
Goldy 9
@3 Like it or not, the average useful life of a sports and entertainment arena is about 30 years. So yeah, the region is likely to to start building a new arena within a decade or so, regardless of what happens in Sodo.

Oh, and since the NBA has already deemed Key unfit as permanent home, there's no way we get a team without a new arena. (And Key was never fit for the NHL.)
Posted by Goldy on September 19, 2012 at 9:50 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 10
Bellevue deserves to host pro sports. They deserve an arena boondoggle. It's a marriage made in heaven. Let Bellevue Republicans enrich pro sports team owners with their tax money, if that makes them happy.

Seattle has suffered enough, been ripped off enough. When can we unload some of this kind of shit on the suburbs?
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on September 19, 2012 at 9:58 PM · Report this
Goldy 11
@10 The problem is, it would be OUR tax money. It would be a countywide tax like that used to finance the stadia, which means the bulk of it would be paid in Seattle.

That's why an Eastside arena would be such a sweet deal for Eastsiders. They would get to steal the business away from Seattle, and we'd largely pay for the privilege.
Posted by Goldy on September 19, 2012 at 10:39 PM · Report this
Goldy, are you saying Bellevue doesn't have a city government with taxes that could issue bonds ? Just replace all places that say Seattle with Bellevue in Hansen's MOU and change some of the locations specified and you've got a Bellevue arena deal with Bellevue bonds funding 90% of an NBA-only position.
Posted by ChefJoe on September 19, 2012 at 11:49 PM · Report this
Will you please not use the word "monies"? It's stupid and pretentious. What does it mean that "money" does not?
Thank you.
Posted by crone on September 20, 2012 at 1:43 AM · Report this
The word on the Eastside from years back was that certain developers desired to build a stadium for minor league hockey in Bellevue, with snagging an NBA team a desired but idealistic goal.

The talk was that the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Bellevue was the desired spot for such a project (which would make sense, as I think Eastlink light rail would pass by it), but something centered around Meydenbauer Center was also considered as a fallback option. (Which would have made the delays on I-405 during game nights/late afternoons even more interesting.)

But that was just talk.
Posted by palamedes on September 20, 2012 at 8:00 AM · Report this
...While Goldy picks a side in developer on developer action.

BTW Goldy, the county vote was 6-3. Only two votes going the other way will kill the whole deal. Guess what?
Posted by hmmmmm on September 20, 2012 at 10:02 AM · Report this
I'm SHOCKED that developers -- whether from Bellevue, Seattle or Walla Walla -- would talk about the "public interest" when they mean their own interests.

Thanks for the breaking news, Goldy.

Posted by bigyaz on September 20, 2012 at 10:49 AM · Report this

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