More than half of Seattleites say they are very or somewhat enthusiastic about efforts to return professional basketball to the Emerald City, but four-fifths Seattle adults oppose the use of taxpayer money to build a new arena, a new KING 5 poll finds.
Last week, Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine described a proposal by San Francisco hedge fund manager Chris Hansen to build a new basketball/hockey arena in SODO. That plan would involve up to $200 million in public financing, split between the city and county and raised through a bond sale. That money would be repaid with rent on the new facility and taxes on game and event revenues -- making the project, McGinn and Constantine said, effectively self-funding.
But how the public perceives the public financing piece of the arena proposal could determine whether or not Seattle citizens will support it, the KING 5 poll shows. Eighty percent of respondents said they opposed having taxpayers help cover some of the costs for a new arena, compared to 10 percent in favor.
Even with such a large majority opposed to taxpayer support, 30 percent of respondents said they are "very enthusiastic" about plans to bring an NBA team, and 26 percent said they were "somewhat enthusiastic."
A healthy plurality of 43 percent said they were "not very" or "not at all" enthusiastic about the pro-basketball efforts.
Potential fan enthusiasm was mixed, according to the KING 5 poll results. A plurality of respondents (39 percent) said they would attend no games if pro-basketball returns to Seattle. But more than half said they would maybe attend one game per season (36 percent), several games a season (20 percent) or buy season tickets (3 percent).
Some good news for arena advocates: Half of Seattle-ites (49 percent) said they would have no reservations about taking an NBA team from another city, despite the fact that the Super Sonics left Seattle just four years ago for Oklahoma City. A third of respondents (35 percent) said they would have some reservations.
The KING 5 poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, surveyed 500 Seattle adults between Feb. 15 and 19.