| OLYMPIA, Wash.
OLYMPIA, Wash. Oct 15 Both the King County
Council and Seattle City Council on Monday approved an NBA arena
public financing deal even as the union representing Seattle
longshoremen threatened a lawsuit to block it.
After the county council approved the deal unanimously, the
city council followed suit with a 7-2 vote. Both bodies had
previously approved earlier versions of the agreement.
"While we still have a long way to go, this is the most
significant step the region has made to bring back the NBA since
2008," Council Chair Larry Gossett said in a written statement.
That year, Seattle lost the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City,
where the team was renamed the Thunder. The move came after the
owner faulted Seattle officials for not coming up with a plan to
build a new arena.
The team's departure after four decades infuriated Seattle
"I thank the City and County Councils for their hard work
and their approval of the arena Memorandum of Understanding,"
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said in a statement. "This is another
important step toward bringing the Sonics back to Seattle."
The arena deal builds on an agreement struck in May between
hedge fund manager and aspiring NBA franchise owner Chris
Hansen, King County Executive Dow Constantine and McGinn. It
requires an outlay of up to $200 million in public bonds to help
pay for the $490 million project.
The public bonds would be repaid by taxes and rent payments
generated from the arena. If that money falls short, Hansen is
required under the deal to make up the difference.
Hansen has spent millions of dollars buying land in a
neighborhood near downtown Seattle, known as SoDo, where two
stadiums house the Seattle Mariners baseball and Seahawks
football teams. The area is also home to the city's port.
The agreement triggers an environmental review of the
proposed project that will explore at least one alternative
The city's dock worker's union opposes putting the arena in
SoDo, saying it would clog area roads and drive away shipping
business. The union claims the agreement runs afoul of state law
because it names the SoDo location as the project site before an
environmental review has been conducted.
"Our union supports the return of the NBA to Seattle, and we
are not opposed to an arena somewhere in the Puget Sound region,
said Cameron Williams, president of Local 19 of the
International Longshore and Warehouse Union, in a statement.
"But we cannot stand idly by while Mr. Hansen and his
well-connected lobbyists, along with our elected officials,
build an arena in a location that threatens the livelihood of
our members and many other workers in the maritime industry."
The union said it planned to sue after McGinn and
Constantine sign the revised agreement, which they are likely to
Hansen's plan calls for having teams from both the NBA and
the National Hockey League play in the new arena, but ground
could be broken on the project for an NBA team alone.