Councilman calls for economic analysis of arena proposal

July 11, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 3 p.m. July 11, 2012

King County Councilman Bob Ferguson called for a detailed and independent analysis to determine the proposed Seattle arena’s impact on jobs and the economy.

Ferguson intends to propose amending the agreement under consider to require the analysis after the King County Council and the Seattle City Council approve the pact for the arena. The study is meant to occur in the review and permitting stages, and before public financing is issued for the project.

In May, King County and Seattle leaders, joined by investor Chris Hansen, proposed a $490 million sports and entertainment arena near Safeco Field.

“The development of an NBA and NHL arena has the potential to impact important segments of our economy, including construction, tourism and maritime industries,” Ferguson said in a statement. “We must take an independent look to evaluate the impacts — positive and negative — on the region’s economy.”

The proposed agreement caps the amount of support at $120 million in public bonds if organizers secure only the NBA franchise. The total could rise to $200 million if the NHL is added to the equation. The proposal calls for operators to then pay back the bonds through rents and taxes generated by the arena.

In May, County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, joined Hansen, a San Francisco hedge fund manager, announced a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, between the county, city and the ArenaCo investment group to govern financing for a proposed arena. The proposal requires approval from the King County Council and the Seattle City Council.

The amendment Ferguson proposed is to the memorandum of understanding.

“While I am still considering my position on the proposed arena, if the MOU is approved, this type of economic analysis is essential to truly understand the economic costs and benefits of the project before the final commitment of public funds is made,” he said.

The announcement days day after another councilman, Pete von Reichbauer, asked King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg to investigate legal costs involved in reviewing the proposed agreement.

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