City Council Covers Ass, Fans Get Free Beer in Seattle Arena Win-Win
Would-be Sonics owner Chris Hansen can bait his hook and cast his NBA-team fishing rod now that he’s apparently steered his SODO arena proposal through the Straits of Seattle Politics.
City Council members Mike O’Brien, Sally Clark, and Tim Burgess yesterday announced their support for issuing up to $200 million in bonds to help finance the arena after Hansen altered the terms of his proposal to their liking.
Asked whether there was anything Hansen didn’t agree to, a smiling Burgess replied: “Nothing. We got it all.” The full Council is expected to approve the proposal Thursday.
The “new” arena deal announced yesterday isn’t substantially different than Hansen’s original proposal. The changes are symbolic, a redecoration of the deal’s iron-clad guarantees so councilmembers can explain them to feisty Magnolia grandmas who haven’t watched a professional sporting event since Frank Gifford retired.
With Hansen agreeing to such demands as a personal guaranty of the bonds, a conversation that would’ve required educating the anti-everything crowd about confusing topics such as “How things actually get done on Earth” can now go a little something like this:
Mrs. Syvertsen: “How can we be sure these fatcat developers aren’t ripping us off!?”
City Councilperson: “Well, ma’am, the loan will be fully paid back by revenues from the sports teams.”
MS: “What if sports goes out of business?”
CC: “Then Chris Hansen will pay back the loan personally.”
MS: “Well how do we know he’ll have the money? He could spend it all like some Goodtime Charlie!”
CC: “The city will audit him every year to make sure his net worth doesn’t fall below $300M.”
MS: “I can’t say I like your tone, you whippersnapper! What if the team leaves after the lease runs out? Why, an empty arena could be a haven of roguery for roller bladers, grunge musicians, and the Irish!”
CC: “In that case, the team will pay to demolish the arena, and give the land back to the city. But you will be dead by then. Hopefully.”
The deal’s propriety now seems immune to all conceivable scenarios–of course, we’ll have to wait and see if Nick Licata reads in Socialist Worker about a coming invasion by basketball-arena-hating aliens. Still, Hansen is ready to celebrate. In an open letter on SonicsArena.com, Hansen offered thanks to arena supporters, and an invitation:
All of the emails and letters to council members, the turnout at the City and County Council hearings, the rally at Occidental Park, and the flood of Green and Gold throughout our City for the entire summer…. Your voices were heard and your hearts spoke volumes. I really hope you all just appreciate how much it meant and what a difference each and every one of you made…And on that note, I would personally like to buy you all a beer at FX McRory’s this Thursday from 5-7. First beer for everyone is on me.
God bless Chris Hansen. After proposing one of the most generous arena investment deals in the history of American professional sports, he absorbed insults from anti-everything idiots, endured a misinformation campaign by the city’s newspaper, survived a blindside hit by the myopic Seattle Mariners and finally swallowed his privacy just so City Council members don’t have to explain capitalism to old ladies. Hansen may be buying the beer now, but if he does manage to hook an NBA team, he’ll get free pints in Seattle for the rest of his life.