Thursday, October 30, 2008 New tax for KeyArena? A big maybe

David Brewster at has taken another run at expressing the Washington State Convention & Trade Center's (WSCTC) point of view on the City of Seattle's desire to use the hotel tax that is collected within Seattle for the state/public portion of Seattle's Key Arena renovation.

WSCTC is closer to identifying an actual site to expand to, they are not there yet. They are closer to knowing how big the new facility will be, they are not there yet. They do want to expand in order to satisfy the over population of hotels in Seattle.

It is interesting that people comment at Crosscut and in the stories at the Seattle Times and Seattle PI that the money should go toward Pike Place Market because it is such a tourist attraction. The question there is: is Pike PLace Market the reason people come to Seattle?

The hotel folks are wanting an expansion of convention space to draw people in from far and wide. I do not see them asking for Pike Place Market to be expanded. I am sure they do not want it to look like a dump, and the city has responded with a measure on the ballot next Tuesday. People will vote for that, not me, but people that comment on these kinds of stories in media outlets.

Having a 15 to 17 thousand seat arena that can actually attract major out of town non-sports events seams to be more in line with what the hotel people are wanting, a place for people to gather for events. While those people are here from out of town I am sure they will go to Pike Place Market as something to do while they are here for their event.

As far as WSCTC providing construction jobs, they are much further away from having an actionable plan than the Key Arena project. If the city had money 6 months ago I think we would see hard hats at Seattle Center today marking up the site for construction.

Something not quite said in David Brewster's story is that unstable timeline of getting a team into Key Arena, and Steve Ballmer paying for the sports effected portion of the renovation, 150 million dollars worth. That is an unknown to them, and I do not think they want the schedule sliding into a window where the WSCTC would want to break ground and have funding for its activity, fair, or fare enough.

What Deputy dog Tim Ceis is telling David Brewster is that they want to use the state money and do the public portion of the renovation even if there isn't an NBA team available right away. That is the hard sell, that isn't the impression they had been giving in public. They had position much of this as just having revenue available if a NBA team could be procured by Steve Ballmer.
The city had a study two years ago that said that Key Arena would need at least 30 million in basic upgrades just to make it a minor league venue without the NBA. That infrastructure and non-sports construction would have to happen no matter what happened with the NBA or state. It looks to me like Ceis and the state are resolving the WSCTC uneasiness with the soft NBA timeline by funding that statement of work, and whatever else they are including (parking garage, or enclosure of the Key footprint?) with the state portion. If this is the case then it does make some sense for the effected WSCTC, and it could infuse the area with construction jobs in a hurry.

This could satisfy WSCTC timeline concerns, stimulate the economy with some jobs right now, and show the NBA that we are going to improve the facility on our own no matter what Ballmer does do. Being able to commit putting an NBA team in Seattle would go much faster if construction was in motion, even if it isn't the sports effected portion of the statement of work.


Anonymous said...

You make sense as usual, but this push-back, hand wringing, and furrowing brows of your fellow Seattelites like Brodeur, et al are making me queasy. The fact of the matter is, is that if the director of the WSCTC comes out diametrically opposed to this, the party's over for the Key as far as pro-sports is concerned. I hope city has the resolve,intestinal fortitude and guile to get this thing done.

Mr Baker said...

when the time comes for WSCTC to break ground they want the funding schedule (see Washington state task force site for example) to be able to switch off Key Arena and on to their project. Ceis looks like he is trying to give them a hard date for that. So, I think we will be ok there.
The city has to be willing to agree to end it, they have a Seattle Center Master Plan floating out there and I think WSCTC thinks the city will not give the funding source back once Key Arena is done, and maybe they are right.

The emotional pleas for this revenue to be spent on things not described in bill 6638 do not bother me. The hotel industry will step in at some point to let the media know that they are not going to support having a tax impact them that could be used for general fund items, state or city general fund.
How "on board" are they with a Key Arena renovation? The must be, or we would not be this far. They are the dog, everything else is the tail.

Anonymous said...

I saw your call for some back up on SC, so far nothing. What gives?

Anonymous said...

By the way that Lincoln guy is shooting from the hip. More dis-information.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I'd like my earlier comment striken from the record. I thought Stern was giving payback Cuban for voting against the re-location of the Sonics thus having the All-Star game at the Cowboys stadium instead of the American Airlines Center... Don't get me wrong Stern is still a major t**l but I caught the story at the tail end of a half hour update on KJR before I read the AP story later. No excuse but I felt I should be clear. So to summerize: Me wrong on the 2010 All-Star game. Stern still a major t**l.

Mr Baker said...

"I'd like my earlier comment striken from the record."


Anonymous said...

Gracias. Nice post in SC regarding BR's education of the movers and shakers and the masses through the media. It's hard to keep an engine running if the pistons keep mis-firing.

Mr Baker said...

I am taking COM495 "Negotiation" this quarter. Threats are always resisted, no matter how true they are.
The question is:what does WSCTC want?
They want to expand and the money to do so.

How could the Key Arena project be in conflict with that need?
Only by their consumption of the tax when WSCTC wants to execute their plan (when they get a plan).

What can the city do to change the situation to solve both requirements?
Give an series of ending dates with the % of the tax that would be required to reach the desired funding total, and let WSCTC pick the %.
What is it going to take for me to get you into the car, uh, I mean agreement on the funding package?
Used car, arena, same false choice given to the customer.

Unless the city wants that tax, or a portion, forever, there is no good reason to not be able to work out an end date.

WSCTC has some interest in the tax being there in a few years when they break ground. Two people on the task force video said "sunset" when talking about the variety of sources the tax is put on. A renovated arena wouldn't hurt them either.

Brian's remark was flippent, and I doubt he intended to express some power and toughness in support of the effort in the fewest amount of words, and nothing more.
The much bigger point is that David Brewster has written stories from the point of view of Simms, Chopp, WSCTC, and a variety of others. I am absolutely sure those same people read him, I think that last time Brewster wrote about WSCTC wanting to expand that me ranting about trying to get that project in with Key Arena had something to do with that being discussed with Ceis. Even if it didn't it was part of Brewster's narrative for that story, and it became part of the narrative in this last one.

Public messaging is important if you expect the general public to not be shocked by an idea, maybe even influence them to support it. It is called advertising. They need to embrace it, or they will get beat by it.

Anonymous said...

Mr. B, you should offer your immense public relation skills to SC. You're probably too busy with school but BR needs your help. A meeting of the minds is in order here. He has the passion to be sure but you offer an plausible intellectual base as a PR man.

Mr Baker said...

Ha, ha. I am not saying anything he doesn't already know.
Brian is a big boy businessman and hired an actual lobbyist, Ryan Dicks, Congressman Norm Dicks son. He doesn't need that kind of help from me, doesn't mean I will stop being a critic.
For the most part we have a similar point of view of the current situation.
You will see more from Brian, one way or another, over the next couple months. I will help him in a very small way.

Change is coming.