Sonics Guy is pumped!
The Seattle City Council made it official last night, voting 6-2 to approve the revised agreement between the city and newly christened local sports hero Chris Hansen. While the King County Council still has to sign off on the agreement (a formality, at this point), the bottom line is the decision officially paves the way for Hansen's proposed $490 NBA/NHL arena to become a SoDo reality.
Sonics Guy is pumped!
Let the team shopping begin!
With Councilmember Tom Rasmussen excused, the two dissenting votes came from Richard Conlin (who has long harbored reservations about the deal), and Nick Licata, who according to the Seattle Times voted against the revised MOU because he was wary of supporting massive public subsidies for a private business that "doesn't provide measurable public benefit," in the words of the Times' Lynn Thompson.
Most area sports fans, however, would argue that the return of NBA basketball to the Emerald City would constitute a sizeable public benefit, and cheers came from many corners in response to the vote.
Hansen issued a statement
Hansen issued a statement, saying:
Today's City Council vote marks the culmination of a long and productive negotiation process that started with the Mayor and his staff more than a year ago, and more recently with the City Council. I want to thank all of Seattle's elected officials and their staffs for their willingness to roll up their sleeves and work with us to get us to this point. I think that today's vote demonstrates that by listening to each other and working hard to address the concerns of all stakeholders that we can make the arena a reality and bring professional basketball and hockey tack to Seattle.
While we still have a long way to go, I am heartened by the tremendous level of support this project has enjoyed. I look forward to working with the County Council again as they now consider the modified MOU.
For his part, Mayor McGinn was also pleased with today's City Council vote,saying:
"I congratulate the City Council for approving the Memorandum of Understanding with Chris Hansen and his investment team to bring basketball back to Seattle."
The Seattle City Council's Sally Bagshaw, initially skeptical of the arena deal, offered this take on her blog: "I have moved from "Really? Spend public money on yet another sports arena?" to a qualified, "Yes." The proposed plan can work for the people and entities that concern me deeply: the City itself, our taxpayers, our workers, our neighborhoods, the Port, our Seattle Center, and yes, our sports fans."
And there were even more city council takes to be had, as the backslapping was serious. From the city website:
"The Council's action today allows us to move forward on the processes laid out in this agreement," said Councilmember Tim Burgess, chair of the Council committee that reviewed the agreement. "Working together, we can improve freight mobility, protect maritime and industrial jobs, bring a new source of economic and cultural activity to our city and ensure a healthy future for the Seattle Center."
"The financial protections in place for Seattle and our taxpayers make this a great deal for non-sports fans and fans alike, and I applaud everyone involved for coming together to work out a winning solution for all parties," said Councilmember Mike O'Brien. "I think this deal sets a new standard for public-private partnerships in projects like this around the country."
"The terms of this agreement reflect our commitment to taxpayers' financial security, the well-being and viability of the Seattle Center, and the need for freight and traffic to move smoothly and reliably," said Councilmember Jean Godden. "This is a significant milestone in the journey to bring the NBA back to Seattle."
"This new, forward-thinking agreement is a culmination of the hundreds of thousands of devoted Sonics fans working to bring back the Sonics," said Councilmember Bruce Harrell. "I applaud Mr. Hansen for his unquestionable commitment to Seattle and his pragmatic approach in negotiating with the City and conversing with all regional stakeholders for the strongest public/private deal in the country. The green and yellow are on their way back home and I look forward to hearing Kevin Calabro call out--flying chickens in the barnyard--once again."
Not surprisingly, the reaction of local sports fanatics was less polished-sounding than the reaction of local politicians, and typically contained far more exclamation points. Here's a sampling of the high-fiving via Twitter:
Licata and Conlin vote no on arena proposal. When u vote for the City Council, vote for someone else.— Dave Softy Mahler (@Softykjr) September 24, 2012