Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw voted for the Seattle Arena MOU in 2012 and seemed like a strong supporter of its regional benefits, but in 2016 she changed her tune and came out with a statement strongly opposing the Occidental Avenue Street Vacation, an approval that is needed as a preliminary administrative step before the city and ownership group have a “Shovel Ready” arena plan to bring to the table in NBA and NHL team discussions.
How could this happen? Let’s take a closer look at Councilmember Bagshaw’s ever-changing positions in our official Bagshaw Betrayal Breakdown!
Below are excerpts from Councilmember Bagshaw’s written statement titled “The Occidental Avenue Street Vacation is a Seriously Bad Idea” from April 19, 2016. Bagshaw’s verbatim statements are in italics, and Sonicsgate’s rebuttals are in bold:
When we signed the MOU in 2012 the deal was Mr. Hansen would provide an NBA team and possibly an NHL team. We hoped that the Sacramento Kings would be sold to Mr. Hansen and that the SuperSonics would be back in Seattle. We were wrong. (CM SB)
^ This justification of her stance change is based on a factually inaccurate timeline of events. The Council voted to approve the Seattle Arena MOU by a 6-2 vote on September 24, 2012. The first time we heard rumors about Chris Hansen purchasing the Sacramento Kings was nearly four months later on January 9, 2013 before confirmation of the agreement on January 21, 2013. Nothing substantive has changed except for an increase in arena benefits and a sense of urgency to act now before the MOU expires (SG).
Beyond the fact that we don’t have a team, traffic problems are real on 1st Avenue and 4th Avenue now through Downtown and in SODO. I live and work on both those Avenues and see it every game day on my walk or ride home. On game days now, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Avenues are congested beyond tolerance. (CM SB)
Under the terms of the proposed street vacation, we councilmembers are being asked to give away a 65’ wide street forever. The traffic has not been mitigated under the terms of this street vacation. It will only get worse if this new arena is sited there without functional replacement of transportation space on Occidental Way. Buses, freight, and perhaps a street car will compete for space. Not one extra foot of capacity has been added… Under the current vacation proposal, we have not addressed the functional replacement of Occidental. (CM SB)
^ Chris Hansen has agreed to significant traffic mitigation in the form of his $40 million donation to the publicly managed SoDo Transportation & Infrastructure Fund. The existing congestion will be improved by this $40 million in private dollars that is explicitly dedicated to improve neighborhood traffic infrastructure. The city is pursuing funding for the Lander Street overpass, which would provide even more mitigation, and Chris Hansen’s group is required to contribute a pro-rata share if it’s approved (unlike the Mariners, with the east access road being made available for the Mariners’ use). Per an MOU Amendment, Chris Hansen would pay “fair market value” to the city for the 40,000 square feet being vacated. The Seattle Arena MOU also provides for significant progress in the city’s Transportation Master Plan for a walking/biking city that utilizes the state’s nexus of transportation infrastructure in SoDo. Of course, zero data has ever been offered to support opponents’ claims of any tangible harm from the vacation of this one block stretch of Occidental Avenue. (SG)
There’s no legal obligation for the city to give up a street under this proposal at this time, and we are putting a lot at risk for an NBA team that doesn’t even exist. We’re hoping for fairy dust. (CM SB)
^ This is inaccurate hyperbole. Per the arena MOU, no public bonding goes to the project until an NBA or NHL team is successfully acquired. The window for this to occur begins as soon as the Occidental Ave Street Vacation is approved, and it peaks during the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations in 2017. After four years of the Seattle process, the City Council has a civic obligation to act now, enabling serious talks to begin with the NBA and NHL while the Seattle Arena MOU is still in effect. (SG)
In reality, the only thing that’s equivalent to unicorns and fairy dust is the claim that KeyArena is a viable alternative option. KeyArena has been disqualified for more than a decade due to myriad deficiencies of the building itself, its footprint, lack of financing and Queen Anne’s decades-away traffic infrastructure. If KeyArena was actually a legitimate option for the future, the City Council would not have let its anchor tenant, the Seattle SuperSonics, break two years of its lease and skip town in 2008 for a measly $45 million after 41 years. Compare this $45 million figure that the City Council agreed was enough to sell out the Sonics vs. the $40 million Hansen is offering in SoDo traffic infrastructure upgrades alone… the math and facts clearly support SoDo as the best deal at the most viable site. (SG)
The dubious AECOM report on KeyArena, which features questionable dollar figures and fails to address parking and traffic infrastructure within the Queen Anne neighborhood, cannot be considered an alternative in any way until a private investor offers some level of financial support, preferably with terms comparable to what the Hansen group has proposed in SoDo. As of today, the only money pledged to remodel KeyArena is the $7 million the Seattle Arena MOU agrees to contribute for “permanent upgrades” that give KeyArena a path forward for continued utility. (SG)
Why do we want to displace these blue collar businesses and gentrify? SODO is important to our diverse economy. (CM SB)
^ This is a fallacy that embodies the disingenuous tone of all Port/ILWU anti-arena talking points. Having a functional, working Port with middle class jobs is absolutely not mutually exclusive to building an arena nearby in the Stadium Overlay District. Statistics do not exist to validate opponents’ claims that Port/ILWU jobs would be negatively affected by vacating Occidental Avenue or typical evening event traffic at the arena. The data of the FEIS and SDOT prove “minimal impact,” and other cities have shown that arenas are the ideal neighbor to industrial areas due to the arena’s evening event schedule producing synergy with the industrial workers’ daytime operations.
The Port’s own outgoing Commissioner Bill Bryant said, “We can make SoDo work in a multiple-use way.” (SG)
Seattle Arena will not displace existing industrial tenants. Regarding traffic impact, Port of Seattle operations at Terminal 46 end at 4:20pm, several hours before the typical 7:00pm arena event time. Hansen’s properties are not a threat to the Port’s freight operations, its Heavy Haul Corridor or the industrial property west of 1st Avenue South. The Port has received 32 street vacations of its own from the city, and more than 65 street vacations have been granted total in the SoDo neighborhood. (SG)
It is also outrageous for the ILWU and arena opponents to use the racially charged word “gentrification” against the arena when the ILWU has faced public criticism, lawsuits and protests including allegations of corrupt pay practices and discrimination against persons of color in the past. (SG)
By contrast, the Seattle Arena MOU contains specific requirements to engage and support local minority workers and businesses that have been historically disenfranchised, as well as bring team care initiatives to underprivileged segments of the local community. Chris Hansen has entered into Labor Peace Agreements with a coalition of unions to make sure arena workers are paid a living wage and everyone gets their fair share. Union support for Seattle Arena includes UNITEHERE Local 8, Service Employees International Union Local 6, and Teamsters Local 117. (SG)
The Seattle Arena construction impact in SoDo is simply not comparable to the true gentrification that Seattle is facing from other large corporations constructing buildings in South Lake Union. Unlike other street vacations granted for these corporations, Seattle Arena ends up becoming public property. Opponents using the word “gentrification” against the arena are making an apples and oranges comparison. The arena being built or not will not decide Seattle’s battle with gentrification. In fact, when weighing the concessions that Hansen has made to mitigate any neighborhood impact with hundreds of millions of dollars in private contributions to community benefits, the Seattle Arena MOU should be considered a model agreement to compare future city deals against.
The Port is spending $250,000 on messaging campaigns while The Seattle Times is running a constant stream of anti-arena propaganda editorials and red herring KeyArena stories with factual errors. Despite this onslaught of disinformation from powerful special interests, 93% of The Seattle Times’ own readers still say they want Occidental Avenue vacated, which will advance the Seattle Arena MOU to the next stage. The Will of the People is clear. The only entities opposing the Seattle Arena MOU are doing so for their own selfish benefit. (SG)
Let’s also not forget that the Seattle Arena plan would fill a glaring infrastructure void and finally give our city a world-class venue for concerts, conventions and community gathering. Seattle Arena would be the “Greenest” arena in the country with its revolutionary Living Machine ecological treatment system, and Seattle can be proud to progressively lead the nation in that regard. By contrast, vocal arena opponents at the Port of Seattle have not been so kind to the environment despite receiving an annual taxpayer subsidy exceeding $80 million. Councilmembers should factor in all of the environmental impacts when casting their final vote. (SG)
Additional Source Citations for the above statements are available for reference via the Seattle Arena Research Document: http://sonicsgate.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Seattle-Arena-Information-Sonicsgate-20160424-2.pdf (SG)
Councilmember Bagshaw also co-wrote an Op Ed in the West Seattle Herald with Councilmember Lisa Herbold, where the two showed they had not paid attention to the process by asking “Why give away the street if we don’t have a team?” We need the street vacation approved so Seattle will have a “Shovel Ready” arena plan with a Master Use Permit and can enter into serious talks with both leagues about getting a team. The Bagshaw/Herbold op-ed piece continues by rolling out the same old opposition talking points about traffic congestion, waterfront jobs and the KeyArena red herring, all of which have been carefully addressed, mitigated extensively and any harm disproved with extensive documentation provided throughout the heavily-vetted arena process.
It is extremely disappointing to see these two Councilmembers ignore the four years of fact-based study on this issue, disregarding the FEIS & SDOT reports, betraying the clear Will of the People, bending to the whims of special interests and passing up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure hundreds of millions in private investment that will produce much-needed public infrastructure.
Now let’s take a look at Councilmember Bagshaw’s statements supporting the arena from 2012, when she initially voted in favor and celebrated the approval of the Seattle Arena MOU:
I have moved from “Really? Spend public money on yet another sports arena?” to a qualified, “Yes.” The proposed plan can work for the people and entities that concern me deeply: the City itself, our taxpayers, our workers, our neighborhoods, the Port, our Seattle Center, and yes, our sports fans.
After months of debate with interested parties and my Council colleagues, I have concluded that the arena deal CAN be a success, and that it will succeed if we work collaboratively to minimize potential collateral damage and maximize the benefits to the public.
The arena is different. We WILL have a new dedicated source of money that will be repaid by users of the arena. This makes a difference to how I look at it.
Although the freight corridor improvements have renewed interest because of the Arena discussions, we can capitalize on this opportunity, work with our allies and reach out to the Port of Tacoma, to our trading partners around the state, to our state legislators for support. We must promote ourselves as a competitive region, and stop being competitors between one another.
We have been handed an opportunity to build on the good work that so many have done before us, including those who drafted the Seattle Center Master Plan in 2008 and the current Seattle Center Advisory Committee. (CM SB)
I was a skeptic when this came forward because I was worried about our taxpayers. The fact that we have a personal guarantee from Mr. Hansen … that makes a big difference. (CM SB)
01:08:00 mark: This arena is going to be an asset
01:10:35 mark: At the end, we are going to have something that the city is going to be proud of.
The amount of study and analysis that has gone into this has really changed my mind.
Regarding concerns that were addressed in MOU:
To protect the port and our freight community and the associated family wage jobs. Those were very important things that I think we have paid more attention to over these past four months than initially came to the floor.
When was the Turning Point?
In 2015, campaign records show ILWU attorney and anti-arena lobbyist Peter Goldman contributed the maximum of $700.00 to Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, which may help explain her sudden change from being a strong arena supporter in 2012 to becoming a fierce opponent of the Occidental Avenue Street Vacation in 2016. (Read our full post: Purchasing Peter Goldman).
What changed, exactly? Let Councilmember Bagshaw know that you don’t appreciate her flip-flopping on the arena, going against the facts and the will of the people at the last minute in order to benefit the selfish special interests opposing the arena. Politely tell her that her policies don’t stand up to the facts, she’s lost credibility in light of the above information, and she’s lost your vote next election: firstname.lastname@example.org