King County Council Moves Arena Forward

By Erica C. Barnett July 23, 2012

On a last-minute procedural vote this afternoon, the King County Council moved the SoDo arena proposal forward, agreeing to consider legislation approving a memorandum of agreement with investor Chris Hansen's ArenaCo investment team and an interlocal agreement between the city and the county at next Monday's full county council meeting.

County budget committee chair Joe McDermott, who sponsored the legislation (which, as of this post, is so recent it hasn't yet shown up on King County's web site), says he wanted to move the arena ordinance forward before the county's annual two-week August recess. "We would love to clear the decks so that we're prepared for [annual] budget [deliberations] in September."

McDermott's striking amendment includes four conditions that must be met before the council will vote on the legislation.

First, arena backers would have to demonstrate that the project will bring specific benefits to the neighborhoods surrounding the arena and to the larger community.

Second, the team's name would have to be the Seattle SuperSonics. (This stipulation is already in the proposed memorandum of understanding, but McDermott says he wants to make the guarantee stronger).

Third, arena backers would have to provide new pedestrian infrastructure serving the new arena, particularly from the existing SoDo and Stadium light rail stations.

And finally, the county would have to have access to the arena investors' ability to meet their financial obligations.

The council could vote to move the arena agreement forward as early as next Monday.
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