When the Seattle City Council and King County Council team up on July 19 to hold a public hearing at City Hall on the sports arena proposed for Sodo, it could be the hottest ticket in town.
Nate Van Duzer, legislative aide to Councilmember Tim Burgess, said he expects the hearing, which starts at 5:30 p.m., to draw a crowd.
“We’ve had some public hearings where only five people show up, but I would expect the number [of people] to be in the hundreds. We got a room that could seat hundreds.”
Last summer, sports-arena investor Chris Hansen approached the city of Seattle with the proposal that would create a multi-purpose sports and entertainment facility that could host a National Basketball Association team and a National Hockey League team.
Since that time, city and county councilmembers have been learning about and deliberating the potential benefits and consequences of the arena.
The hearing was set up to give people a chance to express their opinions in person to both councils, said Van Duzer.
Sign-up for comments begins at
5 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis and each person will have up to two minutes to voice his or her opinion. Those who are unable to attend can submit written opinions until 5 p.m.
Financing for the arena would primarily come from ArenaCo, the potential developer and operator.
The city of Seattle would potentially commit capital of $120 million to the project, with King County committing $80 million — an investment that would be repaid through “arena-generated economic activity,” according to a presentation by the Government Performance and Finance Committee.
Councilmembers are still gathering information, but some members have already expressed concerns about funding.
In a June 6 blog post, Councilmember Richard Conlin, chair of the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee, wrote about his concern regarding a financing loophole that may eventually transfer part of the cost of the arena onto taxpayers through property taxes.
Councilmembers must also take into consideration Initiative 91, a measure passed in 2006 that establishes the city must receive fair return for use of public assets for professional sports.
The council has already received many emails and phone calls from the public about the proposed arena. Most have been in favor, Van Duzer said, but in the last couple weeks the number of negative responses has grown.
He said he couldn’t be sure all members of both councils would attend the hearing.
The city council may vote on the matter as early as August 1, according to the tentative meeting schedule.
Van Duzer said comments made by the public during the meeting will be taken into consideration during deliberations.
“People’s stories matter,” he said. “For instance, if it is four hours straight of people in support [of the arena], councilmembers will weigh that.”