County councilmembers express concerns about arena's traffic impact

County councilmembers express concerns about arena's traffic impact

Constantine and McGinn at the February press conference announcing the arena deal.

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by CHRIS DANIELS / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ChrisDaniels5

KING5.com

Posted on May 9, 2012 at 6:38 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 9 at 6:44 PM

SEATTLE -– Sources say both the offices of King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn are close to completing a "Memorandum of Understanding" for financing a $490 million SODO sports complex.

But negotiations over an "interlocal agreement" -- to define the bonding structure for $200 million of the cost -- continue to drag the process out. 

McGinn and Constantine have said the public will fund a portion of the project only if public money is repaid by arena-generating revenue.  Investor Chris Hansen has agreed to spend $290 million in private money to build the complex south of Safeco Field.

The MOU would still need approval from the City and County councils. It is likely that it will be sent to Seattle and King County leaders for a vote this month. Hansen has asked that the MOU -- essentially a formal, financial, green light to proceed on the project -- be approved by June.

However, it is clear some local lawmakers are skeptical. On Tuesday, County Council leaders released a letter, dated last month, sent to McGinn.  Signed by King County council members Larry Phillips and Pete Von Reichbauer, it poses 17 critical questions to Hansen, mostly focused on transportation issues, and concerns about Port of Seattle business.

Phillips and Von Reichbauer are the Chair and Vice Chair of the Council Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee, respectively.

Hansen's representatives have said the arena would not create major conflicts for the Port, because a majority of related traffic is winding down by late afternoons on weekdays. They also argue there would only be a handful of NBA/NHL game dates would overlap with the Mariners, specifically in April, May and October. 

Hansen is also expected to release findings of a traffic study soon.
 

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