May 022016
 

Videos will be posted later and we can all enjoy hearing councilmembers parade their personality today (be that Bruce’s sports phrase usage, Gonzales’ groaning at said sports phrases, Juarez’s talk of dams, or Johnson’s suggestion that 30% of the city is used for roads, as if a city can function with only 10′ footpaths and bus lanes).

Short summary – O’Brien, Burgess, Harrell, and Johnson voted in favor of the street vacation and Sawant, Herbold, Gonzales, Juarez, and Bagshaw voted against the street vacation.  There were many amendments and clarifications stated (including that a privately financed arena could be built to the terms of the MOU, excluding all those bits about public financing).  Interestingly, the Sonics Rising council vote live thread had a poll predicting the “yes” votes from the council which, at the start of the council meeting, had a tie between 4 and 5 (failing and passing), suggesting many knew all too well that the knife was being readied (insert GIF of proud new pappa Roose Bolton behind shived by “bastard” Ramsey Bolton).

Screencap from shortly after the full council vote concluded.

Screencap from shortly after the full council vote concluded.

In any event, now Hansen has to consider applying again?, changing his preferred site, or how he’ll design a privately financed arena with a public right of way running through the middle of it.  The location in SoDo requiring a street vacation has been something Hansen was pretty well set on, to the point of acquiring properties long before the MOU was even approved.  The current function of Occidental is why Hansen’s group carved a new North-South access road to the East of the arena.  It’s also a part of why the EIS’s site selection was somewhat lacking, it didn’t really give much imagination to using street-vacation-required parcels.  In many respects, this is the city council’s procedural way to escape this roller-coaster they’ve been on for years, particularly with a Nov 2017 expiration date functioning not so much as a deadline but being a harbinger of MOU re-negotiations/extensions.

Of course, Hansen does still own (or have options on) a bunch of land in SoDo, so he could still build LA Live-like attractions or parking garages or new commercial spaces like TV studios, if they pencil out.

Edit:  Video from the Seattle Channel has been posted.  The council takes up the street vacation at 1:12:15.

Two of (at least) Four Street Vacation Hearings Down, Arena next to Tracks for “Oil Train Bombs”

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Mar 162016
 

The current issue before the city council is the Occidental Avenue street vacation necessary to clear the public roadway from the middle of Hansen’s preferred site for an arena.  This street is, in my opinion, how the explored alternate sites all ended up looking lackluster.  The EIS search focused on tracts of land without city streets running through the middle and Hansen’s site ignored Occidental.

The street vacation materials are here, with the presentation from 3/15/2016’s 2 pm meeting being this pdf.  The council staff memo outlines the following concerns of the street vacation (although public benefits can be somewhat nebulous – remember that McGinn opposed and urged a no vote for an alley vacation because Whole Foods wasn’t paying living wages, in his opinion):

1. Are the functions of the street right-of-way to be vacated protected?
2. Would there be adverse land use impacts resulting from the vacation?
3. Will there be sufficient public benefits to offset the loss of the right-of-way?

The Port has mentioned Occidental functioning as a relief valve, used when other main streets get backed up.  Proponents focus on public benefits of having an arena (and Hansen building railroad pedestrian overpasses and bike lanes that would further “calm traffic” in the area).

Adverse Land Use Impacts = 20,000 More Seats, Over 200 Events Adjacent to Oil Trains

“Adverse land use impacts” might also encompass the building of another arena located right next to rail lines used by oil trains which some council members protest/suggest are mobile bombs terrorizing our city.  A creative “NO” vote might be to attach the condition that any new building’s occupancy can’t exceed a few thousand people if oil trains still run along those tracks during times of peak usage, for the safety of the public.  You might not currently have the power to stop the oil trains, but you can restrict stitching together tracts of land to enable new buildings for mass assemblies of people that would be in the oil trains’ path.

It’s a disaster waiting to happen. That’s what protesters say about oil trains running right past the stadiums in SoDo. They staged a rally outside the Mariners game to raise awareness about the possible danger.  Thousands of people turned out to see the Mariners tonight. According to protesters, they were all putting their lives on the line, probably without realizing it.

It is such high time that we put a stop to this,” says Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant, who joined the protesters today. But she doesn’t have the power to change when or where the trains run.  “The governor doesn’t really have the power to stop the trains, nor does the county executive, nor does the mayor,” says Perk.

From 2014 “If an oil train did explode here, then downtown would be turned into an incinerator,” said City Council member Kshama Sawant. She called for a moratorium on oil trains in the city.

A 2015 protest with Mike O’Brien at nearby King Street Station had photos captured by Alex Garland.

"EXPLODING OIL" are the words behind Councilman O'Brien.

“EXPLODING OIL” are the words behind Councilman O’Brien.

Other Meetings

Additional Sustainability and Transportation Committee meetings planned to include this street vacation should occur on April 5th and April 19th (both at 2 PM) with the April 19th meeting being the earliest time a committee vote could be held.  The full council vote could happen after the sub-committee vote is held.

Video Record

Meeting #1 – At 18m 50sec in the following 3/15 meeting, you have the vacation presentation given to the council.

Meeting #2 – The 2.5 hrs of public comment from the evening meeting on 3/15.

Tim Burgess, Council’s Arena Negotiator, Says an NHL-Only or NHL-First Arena Unlikely

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May 082015
 

Tonight, we have a few words from Tim Burgess which clarify that the NHL was not considered a stable investment of the public’s money as far back as the 2012 negotiations.  When combined with the reported tensions between Hansen’s NHL guy, Coleman, it sounds like Chris has been backed into a corner that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars that only Ballmer was willing to burn.

“We specifically wrote the idea of a hockey-only or hockey-first arena out of the agreement three years ago,” Burgess said. “We did that because it’s very weak financially. It’s just too risky for the city.”
The reason is that a typical pro hockey team generates about a third less revenue than an NBA team. So city analysts concluded a hockey arena might not be able to cover the city’s bond payments.
“If we’re going to do hockey, there would have to be a substantial lowering, if not elimination, of the public investment,” Burgess said.

That alone could be a fatal blow. But the arena also now has a triple whammy of political problems.
-One is that Hansen got in trouble down in California for making an illegal, undisclosed campaign contribution.
“That caused a few of my colleagues to be very concerned about his methods and style,” Burgess said.
-Two is that the big money behind the project, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, bolted when he bought the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion. It didn’t escape notice at City Hall that $2 billion could have built the Sodo arena four times over. Yet they needed public help?
-And the capper: News hit last month that a different group has proposed building an arena in Tukwila. They said it would be 100 percent privately financed.
You can’t compete with free. Burgess suggested it would be next to impossible now to convince Seattle citizens to help pay for an arena when another group is willing to do one without public money “only 15 minutes away.”

SoDo Arena Final Environmental Impact Study Released – Murray Reminds Everyone NHL First Requires Money

 Finance, Security  Comments Off on SoDo Arena Final Environmental Impact Study Released – Murray Reminds Everyone NHL First Requires Money
May 082015
 

People have been working themselves up into a tizzy about alternate arena proposals related to the NHL in Tukwilla and Bellevue.  Are they real, privately funded plans or just distractions prior to the SoDo arena FEIS being released ?  Nobody really knows as NHL team owners tend to do very little without public subsidy.

The FEIS is a huge document I’ll browse through later.  It’s being said that the document did not uncover huge roadblocks but did take a rather low-end view on traffic impacts and estimated a negative impact to the Port of Seattle of $-115,584 a year or so.

I also have noticed that the whole City of Seattle collection of arena documents for the city has gone dark with a 404 error.  (I think I found the re-designed collection for the County)  Hopefully, that’s a temporary issue.

NHL-First Means Sweeten the Private Money Pot

Ed Murray’s comments to the Seattle Times suggest the NHL first proposal will have to put in even more private money towards an arena than the NBA-only one.  I guess Ed realizes that NHL-associated taxes and benefits are likely to be far fewer than that of a NBA team.

While hailing Thursday’s release of a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as “another major milestone” reached, Murray said he’s prepared to look elsewhere if entrepreneur Chris Hansen and his hockey partner can’t produce an “NHL first” funding proposal by fall. Murray told The Seattle Times he needs a “much, much better” public funding package to present to the Seattle City Council than the current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Hansen, the city and King County.

That deal calls for up to $200 million in bonds toward a $490 million arena if an NBA team is acquired. But Murray believes there’s no chance of that now, meaning a new proposal with more private money for a riskier “NHL-first” scenario is needed.

“Folks have got to come up with a plan that’s viable for us to finalize this process,’’ said Murray, who needs less public funding to help him sell the council on a request to close a street that’s part of the 627-page EIS. “The timeline you see for decisions on the arena are the timelines for when we either go forward, or we pull the plug.’’

As a refresher of how much public financing (aka, the money the public would be getting to support public functions if this were an entirely private arena) is involved, from way back in September 13, 2012’s meeting we had this chart.  Does Hansen and his NHL partner have a way to sink $400+ million into just the arena and still have things pencil out ?

The range of public money that would be going to the arena project under NBA-only and NBA+NHL scenarios.

The range of public money that would be going to the arena project under NBA-only and NBA+NHL scenarios.

Ed Murray on Ask the Mayor says MOU stands, no NHL-first-ies

 Finance, MOU, Security  Comments Off on Ed Murray on Ask the Mayor says MOU stands, no NHL-first-ies
Nov 132014
 

A great deal of hand-wringing from McGinn’s ousting has revolved around Murray’s lukewarm support of any NBA ambitions.  The NHL continues to explore the Seattle arena proposal, but nobody is committed to being Hansen’s deep-pocketed partner in making their mostly revenue-neutral* arena deal work.  Nobody in a power position is itching to re-open the MOU to renegotiation and Mayor Ed Murray made a NHL dream-shattering statement that an arena without an NBA team just wasn’t going to pencil out for the city, the NHL is not stable enough a partner to proceed with.  For video confirmation, watch the response at 55:50.

(* neutral to the city funds because we assume that the public is too math-illiterate to realize they’re paying higher property taxes due to the arena and, because those higher taxes pay arena bonds rather than tax stuff, we also assume the arena would not require any of the city/county services the taxes it generates would usually pay for)
 

Steve Ballmer Goes Rogue, in LA

 Finance, Other Arenas, Security  Comments Off on Steve Ballmer Goes Rogue, in LA
May 292014
 

We’re all in (LA bitches, Seattle can keep their rain clouds)!

Steve Ballmer has had enough time on the sidelines and, now that he’s retired, doesn’t need Hansen as his “the city should have some skin in the game” pauper beard anymore.  $2B to buy the LA Clippers, with a promise not to relocate.

Of course, the Sterlings still have to interject some drama here.  Per ESPN:

 The agreement is going straight to the NBA for final approval and does not require additional approval from banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling, according to sources.

The Sterling family trust, which owned the Clippers, had rules and guidelines regarding mental incapacitation, sources told Shelburne and ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell. Very recently, sources said, Donald Sterling was found by experts to be incapacitated. His wife Shelly Sterling then became the sole trustee and had the power to deal directly with Ballmer, according to sources.

If I were to coin a hashtag, I guess Hansen got #Ballmered

Art Thiel’s perpective on all this:

Ballmer was Seattle’s muscle when it came to getting the NBA back to town. He partnered with Seattle native Chris Hansen to seek an arena in SoDo and relocate the Kings from Sacramento, a futile 15-month saga that previously led the Can You Top This? list of implausible sports-business stories.

When Sacramento, led by Kevin Johnson, an ex-NBA star turned Sactown mayor and forever the pet of former commissioner David Stern, found the money and the arena plan one year ago to keep the Kings, it was the beginning of the end for Ballmer’s Seattle ambitions.

$2.5 Billion Dollars ???

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May 272014
 

Ok, so this could all be bluster, but this is absolutely an insane amount of money for an NBA team.  Maybe we all vastly under-estimate how profitable this game is.  Remind me again how Ballmer and Hansen couldn’t pay for their own building ?

 

From Sterling’s response, it sounds like I need to pick up some popcorn.

INTRODUCTION
On the basis of remarks made in a livingroom during a “lovers’ quarrel,” which were illegally recorded and then disclosed months later in retaliation for a lawsuit by Mr. Sterling’s wife, the NBA seeks to forcibly strip Mr. Sterling and his wife of their ownership interest in the Los Angeles Clippers. The NBA’s use of this illegal recording constitutes a clear and blatant violation of Mr. Sterling’s California constitutional rights. The authors of the charge did not have the courage, decency, or honesty to acknowledge the circumstances surrounding Mr. Sterling’s jealous rant or even that the source of their information was borne from the “fruit of the poisonous tree.” So, in reality, Mr. Sterling is being banned for life, fined $2.5 million, and stripped of his ownership for a purely private conversation with his lover that he did not know was being recorded and that he never intended would see the light of day. We do not believe a court in the United States of America will enforce the draconian penalties imposed on Mr. Sterling in these circumstances, and indeed, we believe that preservation of Mr. Sterling’s constitutional rights requires that these sham proceedings be terminated in Mr. Sterling’s favor. This is particularly true when over its entire history the NBA has never fined anyone as much as $2.5 million, never suspended any owner for life, and never undertaken to confiscate an owner’s team for any offense, much less an alleged offense originating in a conversation in a private setting that was illegally recorded

 

I Missed My Chance ?

update 5/28  at 7PM PST

 

Bids are In

update 5/29 at 4 PM

The first round of bids are in, Ballmer may be in the lead.

Sources close to the process believe that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s group currently has the leading bid, however the situation remains fluid as negotiations continue with the two other strong groups and Shelly Sterling works to persuade her husband of 58 years to agree to sell the team.

City Inside/Out Covers the SoDo Arena (Again)

 Lawsuit, MOU, Security  Comments Off on City Inside/Out Covers the SoDo Arena (Again)
Feb 162013
 

City Inside/Out took a stab at a discussion on the SoDo arena with sportswriter Art Thiel, Port of Seattle exec Tom Albro, and Jason Reid representing the part-sasquatch NBA fanboy.

I’m not sure there are any major revelations, although I did notice they put up a poll for “do you support a SoDo arena” poll which is probably going to be flooded by Hansen in 5… 4… 3…