No arena vote by city council until after holiday

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by Art Thiel

SportsPressNorthwest

Posted on August 15, 2012 at 7:30 PM

Any chance that the Seattle City Council will vote on Chris Hansen's arena proposal before a summer recess has passed.

Negotiations are continuing and any vote will happen after the Labor Day holiday, according to a post on the blog of Tim Burgess, the council's finance committee chair overseeing the project.

"Since the Council's July 30, 2012 letter to Chris Hansen, our staff and lawyers have been involved in conversations with Mr. Hansen," Burgess wrote. "These discussions are continuing in a fruitful manner. We will continue our deliberations of the legislative package as quickly as possible, but a matter of this significance requires very careful and thorough consideration.

"As a result, the proposed arena is not on the agenda for this Wednesday's government performance and finance committee meeting. The committee will consider the arena legislation again in September."

The council voted 8-0 to request a series of amendments to the original memorandum of understanding drafted among Hansen, the Seattle native and San Francisco investor proposing a $490 million arena in SoDo, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and County Executive Dow Constantine. The most significant request is a diversion of the project's tax revenues dedicated to retirement of the construction-bond debt. The council wants an unspecified amount put toward mitigating the traffic congestion already in SoDo and expected to get worse, at least by opponents of a third sports stadium in the district.

The same day of the council's letter, the King County Council voted 6-3 to move forward with the MOU, but only after the council's own set of amendments were adopted. That included an economic analysis of the arena's impact, which is required to be completed within 90 days of adoption of the MOU by both councils.

Even if the city were to negotiate amendments acceptable to Hansen and vote to approve by mid-September, King County would have to take a re-vote on the city's changes. The 90-day-out economic analysis will put disclosure close to Christmas.

And that timeline doesn't account for the city council's desire for completion of an environmental-impact study, which includes looking at other site locations, before the MOU is approved. EIS studies can take a year or more.

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