King County Councilman Bob Ferguson on Wednesday said he wants an independent financial and economic analysis of the proposal to build a $490 million sports arena in Seattle's existing stadium district.
His call came a day before a panel of experts testified before the county council about the arena proposal's likely impact on the city and county.
"I want to see the impact on jobs, on the port if we go forward with this new arena," Ferguson said, meaning he wants the independent review conducted before any taxpayer funds are put forward to support the project.
Investor Chris Hansen and his partners have proposed putting $290 million of their own money into the project. They have asked Seattle and King County to borrow $200 million to cover the remaining costs. That debt would be repaid by Hansen's group via rent payments on the arena and tax revenues on ticket sales and concessions.
At Thursday's council hearing, the discussion focused more on the public value of a new arena and less on the financial risk of borrowing $200 million backed by area taxpayers.
"Do pro sports have us over a barrel? Yes. Should we stop playing this foolish game? Not necessarily," said economic Dick Conway.
The experts who spoke to the council on Thursday offered these three big-picture conclusions:
On traffic: A game at the arena would likely to add 5 to 10 minutes to a commute through SODO.
On land use: The proposed arena would bring new restaurants and retail to the SODO neighborhood.
On the impact on the Port of Seattle: It remains unclear how many jobs would be added or lost.
"From the data we show, Seattle would be the clear winner from tax revenues in this project," said Bill Beyers, an economic expert at the University of Washington.
Both the city and county councils are expected to vote on the arena plan by the end of the summer.