Today's Winner: Mayor Mike "No Cost Overruns" McGinn
Today's big news—a proposed $500 million deal between private investor Chris Hansen, who's pledged $300 million, and the city and county to build an NBA/NHL stadium in SoDo and bring the Sonics back to Seattle—seems too good to be true.
Wasn't KeyArena, and its luxury suites, going to cover the public bonds? It certainly didn't work out that way. By 2006, after a city-financed $77 million KeyArena upgrade in 1995, the city was still covering the Sonics' payment shortfall to the tune of $2 million a year on $130 million in debt service.[pullquote]By 2006, after a city-financed $77 million KeyArena upgrade in 1995, the city was still covering the Sonics' payment shortfall to the tune of $2 million a year.[/pullquote]
But never mind all that. At a mobbed press conference at City Hall today, McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine said Hansen's proposal met all the city and county's "protection" preconditions (including the I-91 requirement passed by voters in 2006 that any public investment in a sports stadium make a profit for the city):
• A guaranteed repayment of public investment (the total $200 million city and county contribution will be repaid through rent payments and tax revenues from the business) equivalent to the yield on a 30-year US Treasury bond;
• An agreement that the new team would not relocate for 30 years;
• An additional security reserve to cover any cost overruns;
• No new taxes (the project would be paid for with admissions taxes and rent);
• No impact on existing city and county services;
• And a requirement that the team and its owners pay for any overruns, as well as a special reserve fund to pay for unanticipated construction costs.
McGinn—standing shoulder to shoulder with the popular Constantine (a former rival on the downtown tunnel) at an overflow press conference packed with bigwigs such as King County Labor Council leader David Freiboth (another former McGinn tunnel foe) and former deputy mayor Maud Daudon smiling and applauding—was clearly today's big winner.
Today's Loser(s): Everyone who's planning to run against McGinn.
Seriously, Peter Steinbrueck's last two Facebook status updates are telling.
Steinbrueck wrote yesterday: "As much as I love the game of basketball ... I wonder who in Seattle thinks we need another pro-sports arena? And can the city afford it? Show me one sports stadium in the U.S. that has not enjoyed massive public subsidies."
And in a separate post today: "Who thinks Seattle needs another pro sports stadium?"