Dear Sonics fans,
If you live in Washington state, your General Election Ballots should start arriving this week. This is for the election officially held on November 7, 2017.
We want to provide you with information directly from the candidates regarding their Seattle Arena policies.
To be completely clear, we do not encourage any of our members or fans to vote based exclusively on the issue of the arena or bringing back the Sonics. While this remains important to all of us, we absolutely acknowledge that our region has crucial issues such as transportation, education, homelessness, health care, the environment, crime, social justice, jobs, affordable housing and business growth that need to be high priorities for public officials. We advise all citizens to research the platforms of each candidate, with the arena being just one of many issues to consider when voting.
That said, this debate has gone on long enough. It has been nine years since Seattle lost the Sonics, and our government has been debating how to adequately address our region’s glaring arena inadequacies for more than two decades. The City Council has two legitimate arena deals on the table that each represent massive private investment into the public sector, a position most cities would love to be in right now. They should move forward with due diligence and approval of both proposals.
Sonicsgate’s primary goal has always been to bring the SuperSonics back to Seattle. We are not here to stand in the way of any plan that can legitimately achieve that end. We expect our elected officials to evaluate both proposals and vote to approve a deal that puts Seattle in the best position to get an NBA team as soon as possible.
No matter what happens from here, Chris Hansen is a hero for all the work he has put into the SoDo arena proposal and his valiant attempts to bring back the Sonics. He has spent more than five years with millions of dollars poured into these efforts, and his group set the bar for what all public-private partnerships should look like when proposing arena facilities around the nation, balancing community benefits with responsible private financing and local engagement.
Tim Leiweke’s group also brings tremendous legitimacy to the process based on past experience financing and operating major arenas. Their proposal to renovate KeyArena has challenges to overcome, particularly regarding traffic and neighborhood impact mitigation, but this is a group that has the knowledge and financial means to make it happen.
We have seen extensive debate about each location and financing plan this year. With all that has happened in the ongoing Sonicsgate saga, we don’t want to rule out either plan right now. If only we had this level of engagement from wealthy investors and public officials when we still had the Sonics back in 2008… we must learn from the failures of the past and move forward to settle this arena issue once and for all!
Take time to reach out to the candidates based on their specific policy statements listed below, and be sure to cast your vote before November 7. Always remain respectful in all forms of communication. Stick to the facts of the case and the positive impact the Sonics have had on your life and our community.
Sonicsgate’s endorsements below are based on our confidence in a particular candidate’s ability to get an arena deal approved quickly and move on to addressing other important issues that will move our great city forward. We did not endorse in every race, and some of our endorsed candidates lost in the August Primary Election. Overall, we value transparency, honesty and grassroots involvement in the political process.
We sent the leading candidates for Seattle’s 2017 Mayoral and City Council races three brief questions about their arena policies:
1. Are you in favor of approving the Occidental Avenue Street Vacation for the SoDo Arena proposal led by Chris Hansen, The Nordstroms and Russell Wilson? Why or why not?
2. Are you in favor of approving the proposed remodel of KeyArena led by Tim Leiweke, David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer? Why or why not?
3. How much of a priority is approving one of these arena proposals in the next year? Outside of the arena issue, what is your number one policy goal upon entering office?
Their answers are published in full for your consideration below:
Seattle Mayoral Race
1. If we can’t make a publicly beneficial deal at Seattle Center work, then let’s try to figure out how to make SODO work without taking industrial land, threatening the viability of industrial uses, or adding even more challenges to freight mobility. The arena itself could work there with the right transit and street improvements (and no new parking), but their long term plan for building an entertainment zone is too much.
2. I’m for civic activities at Seattle Center, for infill development, for reuse of historic buildings (or roofs), for expanding transit service, for protecting industrial land, and supporting the growth of family wage industrial jobs and locally owned businesses. These are the general principles guiding my thinking.
If we can do so with minimal public money, secure the public’s fair share of the profit stream, figure out sufficient transit service to the venue and not build another parking garage, guarantee the venue will be operated in the public interest (ie local festivals, and the Storm and the Sonics have priority use over corporate mega-concerts), and if we can protect KEXP and Vera Project and other awesome civic facilities and activities already there, then I am in favor of this proposal.
3. I love the Sonics. Basketball is my favorite sport to watch, and I do believe that we should figure out a way to bring the Sonics back to our city. As mayor, I think it is important that we look at all of our options and negotiate what is best for the public good. There are many details to balance to get there.
My number one priority is housing affordability. I’d like to pass new taxes to deter speculation in our housing market, like taxes on on corporate and non-resident ownership of housing, taxes on vacant/unused housing, additional Real Estate Excise Tax on luxury homes, and then plough the proceeds into producing affordable housing on surplus public land. We need to keep Seattle affordable to the people who work here, and stand together against displacing low income families, people of color and young people who are being driven out of our city by the escalating cost of living.
Jenny Durkan: DID NOT RESPOND
— KING 5 News (@KING5Seattle) October 25, 2017
Seattle City Council Race, Position 8
1. I do not support approving the Occidental Avenue Street Vacation due the negative impact on the Port of Seattle and middle-class jobs.
2. I do support the proposed remodel of KeyArena, as we have an opportunity to add jobs and economic activity to Seattle Center without impacted the Port.
3. It is a priority for my campaign to approve on of these arena proposals in the next year. My number one policy goal upon entering office is to raise the corporate tax rate (while raising the small business exemption) to pay for affordable housing.
Teresa Mosqueda: DID NOT RESPOND
Seattle City Council Race, Position 9
1. Having the arena in SODO makes the most sense because of the existing infrastructure which already supports the other arenas. The vacation of Occidental would impact cargo throughput. I prefer ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions that work for everyone. Why not lower Occidental and build the stadium over the street?
2. The majority of folks I’ve spoken with that live in the Lower Queen Anne area are opposed to the added congestion that an NBA team would bring to an area that already hosts major events year-round.
While their remodel proposal is incredibly well designed, I’d prefer to have local owners, who live in the greater Seattle area, operate an NBA team in Seattle.
3. I believe Seattle will benefit from having an NBA team again, so it is a high priority to move the approval process along as expediently as possible. My number one policy goal upon entering office is to establish a campus with all necessary services for the homeless and/or those suffering from drug addiction. We spend more per capita of any major metropolitan city, and yet get the worst return (results) for our money. It is time to try something new, and work with the non-profits that produce positive, measurable results.
Lorena Gonzalez: DID NOT RESPOND
Seattle City Attorney
Thank you for these questions regarding the two arena projects now under consideration to facilitate the return of our Seattle Sonics NBA franchise, along with a possible NHL franchise. One of the reasons I first ran for the City Attorney position eight years ago was my profound disappointment with the prior City Attorney who, in my opinion, abdicated his “sole supervisory control over all the litigation of the city” under our City Charter when he bowed to political pressure and settled pending litigation that allowed the Oklahoma City ownership group to breach its Key Arena lease.
Since then, I have worked closely with both the Hansen/SODO groups under the prior executive, as well as the latest proposal to renovate Key Arena under the current city executive. Because it is my responsibility to advise our legislative authority-comprised of City Council and the Mayor-about this policy decision, it is of course inappropriate for me to select one proposal over the other. It would, in fact, be highly inappropriate for any candidate for this office to do so, much the same as asking judicial candidates how they would rule in future cases.
I do believe, however, that we are fortunate in having two pathways to bringing NBA/NHL franchises back to Seattle. This article confirms that the City is approaching the question appropriately and doing its due diligence. It is important to make certain that the City make the best legal/business decision, and not one made on emotions or loyalties.
Thus, the return of our Sonics remains a high priority for me personally, and I am working hard to support our policymakers in weighing the City’s best options. That process will ensure we not only see the return of these professional teams to Seattle, but that it’s a deal that serves as a model for other cities longing for professional franchises.
We have many challenges facing Seattle. I remain committed, in the Era of Trump, to seeing police reform through to completion, as well as drug policy reform and the best ways possible to combat income inequality, provide for affordable housing, and addressing institutional racism.
DID NOT RESPOND: Scott Lindsay
Port of Seattle Commissioner, Position 1
While I appreciate the concerns that certain stakeholders at the Port of Seattle have about freight mobility issues in SODO, I have seen no actual evidence that an arena in SODO would be worse than other development options for that parcel of land. My opponent (John Creighton) seems to think that he can hold onto the status quo in SODO, and it looks like the anti-arena contingent may have won. But it’s a pyrrhic victory. Seattle is growing, and the pressures to redevelop the northern part of SODO are only going to intensify. Had I been a Port Commissioner at the time, I would have worked to find a mutually beneficial solution. The goal for the Port is to preserve and grow maritime and industrial jobs. Chris Hansen showed a willingness to put money toward the Lander Street Overpass to address the freight mobility issue. I would have asked him to go a step further, because there is a larger issue for the Port. Terminal 46, the principal container cargo terminal at issue in the arena discussion, will be obsolete in a decade as a container port. The next generation of ships is so large that T46 won’t have the capacity to handle them competitively. Terminal 5, however, could more than replace the lost capacity, if it were refurbished to accommodate the cranes needed for the larger ships. The Port knows this, too. The Port has commissioned studies to examine redevelopment options for T46, including the option to build a new headquarters for the Port on that spot. So, rather than the Port taking a hard position against the SODO arena, the Port could have sat down and negotiated with Hansen a deal that would have achieved its primary goals: preserve maritime and industrial jobs in SODO and improve freight mobility so the Port of Seattle could be competitive as a container seaport well into the future. Op-Ed on Sonics Rising.
Port of Seattle Commissioner, Position 3
I do support a privately funded stadium as long as mitigations were well planned, construction includes a Project Labor Agreement, and the workers at the new arena are represented by a union.
Port of Seattle Commissioner, Position 4
Seattle School Board Director, District 7
I am about inclusion and equity for all people especially as it pertains to the education of all our children and families in Seattle Public Schools. Although, I may not have a direct link to the decision making process regarding Seattle Basketball, I know that it has a positive affect on our student athletes of Seattle Public Schools. Sports have provided many educational opportunities for students from various socio-economic backgrounds. It is an outlet for students to engage and celebrate each other’s talents and differences. Let’s keep it alive! Please re-elect me, Betty Patu, back to Seattle Public Schools Board Director for District 7. Thank you!!
Gary Payton says: Betty has been as strong an advocate for our children and families as I have been a strong advocate for securing a NBA team in Seattle. Her dedication and commitment to ensuring all our children receive quality and equitable education is unwavering. She needs our support and I am asking you to vote for Betty Patu on November 7, 2017. Re-elect Betty to finish and establish the hard work she has exhibited for many years. Our community is depending on her.
Jamal Crawford says: As an African American Male who attended Rainier Beach High School in the 90’s, Betty Patu has always helped not only my African American peers but all kids who needed help with resources and opportunities. She didn’t see color, she saw students as a mother tending to her children. She dedicated her life to ensuring we graduated from high school on time and I am proud to let everyone know what she did for me. I am forever grateful and love this woman! She will represent your voice on the Board in a spirit of excellence! You know the person by the fruit that she/he bears, Betty’s work and the changes in our lives speak for itself. As Betty enjoyed serving others, it inspired me to do the same in my community and abroad. Please maintain Betty Patu as your Seattle School Board Director of District 7!
King County Executive
EDITOR’S NOTE: We did not reach out to Dow’s campaign or the other candidates for King County Executive in time for them to respond to our specific arena questions above. We have met with Dow and his staff multiple times to discuss the Sonics issue in prior election cycles, and he is a strong supporter of the cause. We proudly endorse Dow Constantine for re-election. Dow has been an extremely strong leader on a wide range of issues to benefit our region as a whole, including his key role in moving responsible Seattle arena plans forward. We have full confidence he will continue down this path and support the best arena solution to bring the NBA, NHL, concerts, conventions and community events to King County.
#KeepHoopAlive #SeattleArena #ArenaYes
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Soon we will have an arena plan in place to finally Bring Back Our Seattle SuperSonics!
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