Saturday, November 29, 2008

KeyArena, or no KeyArena, that is Monday's Question

Monday, December 1st, the Washington State Task Force for Local Financing Option for King County is required to submit to the appropriate state committees their findings and recommendations.

Along with funding arts in King County, youth athletic programs, the Washington State Trade & Convention, and Husky stadium, is the request by the City of Seattle's request for funding to pay for Key Arena renovations.
If the task force does not recommend the Key Arena proposal then it is, more or less, dead (more or less).

Not recommending the renovation might also let Clay Bennett off the hook for 30 million dollars should Steve Ballmer not be able to buy a team within 5 years of the settlement date with the city, August 17, 2008.
The state has until December 31, 2009 to provide a funding resource for 1/4 of the cost toward an arena in order to put that part of the settlement in play.

This is a big step, and not the last step, should it move forward.

Part of the city's presentation is that the funding could be used in the near term on something else at Seattle Center, home to Key Arena, should there be a delay in Steve Ballmer being able to buy an NBA team. A major point here is to provide near term construction jobs. If the city did redirect the money to another project on the site then they would be on the hook to put the money back in the arena and provide 75 million of their own.

Committee co-chair Ross Hunter teld me in an email reply that he does not think this is "shovel ready" this Spring, and that he would be "astounded" if Steve Ballmer's Seattle Center Investment group made its investment before securing a team.
I agree with both of those things. What I will say is that very few of the requests are "shovel ready", activity at Seattle Center is likely much closer, and Key Arena still closer than Husky stadium and the convention center.

If there is doubt that Steve Balmer could secure a team in the near term I will direct anybody's attention to the Memphis Grizzlies home game attendance.

I would expect activity of some kind to start sometime, in some way, at Seattle Center this year, should the financing eventually get approved in the next couple months.
But, first things first, we need the committee recommendation.

House Bill 2765 New Section states the due dates for the task force, authorizes the activity, and the scope of their work.
Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone


Anonymous said...

My tendency to oversimplify and generalize leads me to believe that if the Ballmer group were to communicate to Mr. Hunter's group that if they were willing to commit to a remodel within 12 months due to the current economic downturn that the plan would be recommendeded to the legislature easily. The SCI would do this in lieu of securing an NBA franchise, as far as we would know.

Mr Baker said...

Or, the state commmits to being the last 75 million, not the first, second, or third, effectively punting the obligation to the next budget cycle, and placing the responsibility for making sure there really is a private portion back in to thecity and Ballmer.
I would not give the city 75 million to be spent elsewhere at Seattle Center, they can not argue that Key Arena with an anchor tenant is a must have for Seattle Center while stating that they may just spend the money on something else while Ballmer secures a team.
The state, at some point last spring said it did not have to be the first 75 million, and that the city could bridge the financing. I think the state, if the approve this, goes back to that, committing but to the last 75.
Approve it today, don't have to spend it until the next budget cycle.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that the city wants this particular revenue stream for the entire Seattle Center as well as the Key which is fine by me. So why wouldn't Hunter's group look at this proposal more favorably? I'm hoping and suggesting that SCI steps up and says we'll commit to 150M donation/investment whether we have a team by the end of 2009 or not if you recommend the city to have this 1% tax revenue so they can move forward and make it the first main project for the Center.

Mr Baker said...

SCI is not gifting 150 million to anything other than the team effected portion of Key Arena, not without at team.
Key Arena needs an anchor tenant.

I really do think that Ballmer could secure a team very quickly, once secured it is better/faster/cheaper to renovate without the team actually in the building (18 months vs 24 months with a team in it), so that activity would start and likely complete before at team occupied the building.

Since this is where Ballmer is willing to donate his money then that is where I would like to state money to be spent on. If after there is money for the Center master plan, good for that, but it is an easy sell to voters to get them to pay for that portion, even though it is a waste of money without Key Arena generating a ton of revenue.

Anonymous said...

Well I definately agree with you that it would be easier to renovate/rebuild without a team there. I really can't forsee an issue of getting a franchise, NBA or (here we go again...)NHL to want to occupy the building. Monday should be interesting. Are you still planning on going to the hearing? It would be very interesting indeed if Matt Griffin made an appearance.

Mr Baker said...

I do not think I can make it, that is why I sent an email to Hunter.
I have set up a couple meetings a while ago, ducking out of meetings that I have called is hard.

Anonymous said...

Well you were right about the Husky Stadium deal. The shit has hit the fan on that deal. Damn Cougs. It's a state landmark for chrissakes and it'll create jobs. On a side note I'm pretty stoked about the speedbump that city and convention center managed to negociate with the commitee.

Mr Baker said...

I was hoping as much as thinking that would happen.

The Convention Center is asking for 5x the money as husky stadium, with no private matching funds, and the KeyArena 75 mil is 1/10th the Convention Center request, has the formal ok from WSCTC director.

It will be hard to deny WSCTC or KeyArena on their own, drawing from the same revenue.

The question now becomes having WSCTC delayed so the state can raid the fund, or not. KeyArena I think has become a moon around the WSCTC planet.

The arts, youth sports, husky stadium, 4Culture, that all starts to look like a seperate package.

That is how it could play out.

The gov getting fed help would be huge.

Mr Baker said...

I mean, fed help with other projects, not this stuff.

Anonymous said...

Roger, I gotcha