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King County Council begins its review of SODO arena proposal


Budget Chair announces seven member independent panel to provide analysis of plan


The Metropolitan King County Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee received its first briefing today on the proposed legislation that would bring an NBA/NHL arena to Seattle’s SODO neighborhood.

“For many fans this proposal is a reason to have great hope that the Sonics will play in Seattle again. As exciting as that possibility is, many questions remain,” said Committee Chair Joe McDermott. “The Council is committed to fully vetting the proposed legislation.”

The terms of the agreements, timeline and costs to the County’s taxpayers were among the topics discussed at the meeting.

McDermott also announced the formation of an independent expert panel that will
provide councilmembers with independent analysis of the plan. Councilmember McDermott said the members of the panel are experts in economics, public finance, public-private partnerships, labor, urban development and transportation. The panel includes:

Justin Marlowe, a professor at the University of Washington’s Evans School who specializes in Public Financial Management,
• Urban developer Steve Orser,
Bill Beyers, UW geography professor,
• Local economist Dick Conway,
Tracey Thompson, Secretary Treasurer of Teamsters local 117,
Charlie Howard, Transportation Planning Director for the Puget Sound Regional Council,
• Former WA Secretary of Transportation Doug MacDonald

“The panel’s participants have graciously volunteered their time and expertise to help us fully understand the benefits and risks of this proposal,” McDermott said. “This is a comprehensive panel – with skeptics among it.”

In February, private investor Christopher Hansen presented to the city of Seattle and King County a proposal to construct a new arena in Seattle’s Stadium District with the ability to host NBA and NHL teams. After negotiations between Hansen, County Executive Constantine and Mayor McGinn, an agreement was announced on May 16. The legislation was transmitted to the Council on May 22. The terms of the agreement outline King County’s role in the proposed arena project.

Read the committee staff report
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