Finally, some commonsense commentary in the Seattle Times regarding a new Sonics arena. Of course, it’s coming from Danny Westneat, not the editorial board, but you can’t have everything.
The Sonics and the public could go 50-50 on the cost of renovating KeyArena. Say the price is up to $250 million. That’s $125 million each.
The Sonics were going to spend at least that much in Renton, anyway. For the public, it’s a quarter-of-a-billion dollars less than Renton.
It would leave us with just one basketball arena — happily, the one we’ve already got. We could drop the sales tax on restaurants. Imagine: a tax canceled! There would be zero state money needed. The entire public share could be paid for by extending local hotel/motel and car-rental taxes.
Seattle Center would get a new arena, with money to pay off the old arena’s debt — lifting a white elephant from the city’s back. There’s even money left over, $35 million that could be used for arts or recreation projects around the county.
Best, it would keep the teams where they belong. In Seattle. Even Chris Van Dyk, backer of Initiative 91 limiting sports subsidies, said he could support such a meet-in-the-middle deal. And that it could comply with the initiative.
I don’t mean to offend Danny or anything, but at least on this issue, it turns out we actually think alike. Just a few days ago I suggested that if the Sonics are really serious about wanting to stay in Seattle, there are many other options they could explore. For example, “Seattle voters might be willing to accept a Key Arena renovation proposal that included a more typical 40/60 public/private financing plan.”
I suggested 40/60, and Danny came back with 50/50. Perhaps the final split might be 45/55? That’s what professional negotiators technically refer to as a “COMPROMISE.”
Danny is skeptical that the Sonics ownership and our political leaders have what it takes to work this out like adults, so perhaps Danny and I should just sit down at the table together and bang out the details of this deal ourselves? We’re already so close. Then Chris Van Dyk can put it on the ballot, and if it passes, the Sonics are free to take it or leave
I’m not saying I’d necessarily vote for such a proposal, but a good first step towards convincing me would be for Clay Bennett and his consortium of Oklahoma City businessmen to stop talking ultimatum, and start talking business.