Seattle City Council votes in favor of SoDo arena

The Seattle City Council voted 6-2 Monday to cut a deal with hedge fund manager Chris Hansen to build an arena in the SoDo district.

The deal represents months of negotiations between the council and Hansen. New terms to the deal secured money to put into a fund for transportation and to initiate further study of the use of Key Arena.

Hansen will invest $290 million of his money, along with approximately $200 million in bond financing from the city and county, should an NHL and NBA team be secured

The money for Key Arena and transportation improvements, approximately $47 million from the tax proceeds of the arena, was the primary reason many councilmembers went from a "no" vote, to a "yes," they said. Another crucial agreement the council and Hansen made was to secure a personal guarantee that if something goes wrong, the city and county will get its money back. Additionally, after 30 years, the city has the ability to sell the arena back to Hansen for $200 million.

Councilmembers lauded the negotiations as a way to get a new arena, with good financial protections while still working to keep Key Arena viable.

"Some people have said the Key Arena is dead," said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. "I think that's dead wrong; we have the ability to repurpose this arena."

The two "no" votes, Richard Conlin and Nick Licata cited both economic and cultural factors in their decision to vote against the proposal. Licata said the arena doesn't have the same value of nonprofit institutions such as Benoroya Hall and the Seattle Art Museum.

Conlin said nothing has shown him why the city should be involved in financing the arena.

"We still don't have evidence that it will provide clear returns," he said.


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