A Seattle City Council committee voted Thursday to approve a revised agreement with investor Chris Hansen to build a new sports arena blocks away from Safeco Field in the SODO district.
The Government Performance and Finance Committee voted 7-0 (with one abstention), setting up a final vote on Sept. 24.
Today's vote moves us one step closer to a good deal for all the people of Seattle, not just sports fans, said Councilmember Tim Burgess, the committee chairman. The new deal protects family-wage jobs and provides strong financial protections for taxpayers and city and county government. It also gives us an opportunity to begin an in-depth planning process about the future of the Seattle Center.
Chris Hansen, the investor behind the arena project, said the revised deal with the city means a lot to the NBA.
They've been watching very close to what we're doing. I think going in they were very skeptical we would get to this point given our history in Seattle, he said.
Hansen said the demands of the council pushed him and his investors past the point that they were probably prepared to go financially, but they decided it was in the best interest of the community to drop a few more dollars into the agreement.
In the interest of making this happen and taking a step back and see the big picture it was just really important for us to get this done, Hansen said.
The renegotiated deal was met with praise by fans and city officials, but still skepticism from opponents. On Wednesday, opponents to the arena sent a letter to the city stating their concerns about the re-worked agreement. Among those signing the letter was a representative of the Seattle Mariners front office, one of the first public statements by the Mariners opposing the deal.
The proposed site of the arena is adjacent to the parking garage across the street from the Mariners' home park, Safeco Field.
Hansen said there have been repeated efforts to reach out to the Mariners along with Seattle's other pro franchises.
About the only comment I would make is the Seahawks and Sounders have engaged with us and are interested in what we are doing, expressed their concerns and are willing to work with us, Hansen said. We have made a lot of outreach to the Mariners and they are not interested in having a dialogue. You can't reach a point with people if they're not interested in having the discussion about what it would take to make it happen and make it acceptable for them.
The revised deal called for Hansen's group to increase its reserves on the $490 million project that will include $290 million in private investment. Hansen's group will also commit $7 million toward KeyArena and spend $40 million on improving traffic and freight mobility in the area around the stadiums and the nearby Port of Seattle.
Associated Press contributing.