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Chris Hansen Argues Case For Arena Before King County Council

The drama continues in the quest to bring the NBA back to Seattle, reports Art Thiel at Sportspress Northwest. Land use ordinances, a public vote, and other issues were all discussed in hearings with the King County Council on Tuesday. What was said at the hearings and more is behind the jump.

Concerning the placement of a possible stadium, defenders of the project put forth that it was both within the legal regulations and of a perfectly reasonable size:

Steinbrueck’s claim that the lot size was too small was refuted in a written response from Hansen’s architectural firm, 360 Architecture of Kansas City, relayed via Hansen’s PR firm. Principal architect Anton Foss wrote:

“We can state confidently that based on our 20 years of experience in designing arenas, that the dimensions of the SoDo site will support a modern NBA/NHL facility. In our preliminary studies for the site conducted nearly a year ago, we overlaid several other modern arenas on the project site to verify there is sufficient area and critical dimensions. The site fits such arenas comfortably.

“The site would only be inadequate for one of the ‘super-sized’ arenas such as Staples Center (Los Angeles) or Amway Center in Orlando. These buildings have 150,000-300,000 extra square feet of office and lobby space that would be totally unnecessary for an arena in the SoDo area of the Seattle market.”

Regarding the always contentious issue of funding the arena, Hansen was challenged to put it to a county-wide vote:

Questions from the council’s chief site critics, Phillips and Pete von Reichbauer, led to tense, but polite, moments in which Hansen was asked if he’d consider allowing a county-wide vote on the project, something he has said in interviews he would not do.

“The public has already voted — with I-91,” Hansen said of a 2007 Seattle ballot measure that won overwhelming approval, mandating a modest rate of return on any building for pro sports. Von Reichbauer retorted by saying that was a city vote from which county voters — his district represents south county voters — were excluded.

“Government would be dysfunctional if every ordinance were required to be voted on,” Hansen said, saying council members were elected to represent voters’ interests. Von Reichbauer reminded him that proposals to fund publicly the Mariners stadium (1995) and the Seahawks stadium (1997) came to public votes.

Hansen never said yes or no to the original question, but did say, “we will disagree, and that’s your right.”

All told, it seems both sides got to say their piece and, unsurprisingly, plenty more discussion will follow.

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