Friday, January 13, 2012

Seattle Times: Council irked that McGinn didn't reveal hiring of arena consultant

Well, they going to have to start engaging the public sometime, even if forced to by the Seattle Times.
Seattle City Council members said Friday they are troubled that Mayor Mike McGinn would hire a consultant to advise the city on the development of a new, state-of-the-art sports facility that could draw an NBA team back to Seattle — without conferring with them.

"I understand vague rumors are one thing. But if they [the Mayor's Office] felt this was important enough to enter into a contract, I think it would have been appropriate to notify the council at that point," said Councilmember Richard Conlin.
. . .
McGinn agreed to a $19,500-per-month contract in July with a nationally prominent sports-facilities consultant, Carl Hirsh.
. . .
"I understand the challenges of KeyArena and the economics of the NBA and NHL," Hirsh said Friday.

Hirsh, managing partner of Stafford Sports in New Jersey, has advised the San Antonio Spurs through construction of their new arena, the AT&T Center. He worked with the city of Orlando to negotiate an agreement with the Orlando Magic for a new downtown arena and with senior management planning a new Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Hirsh estimated it would cost $400 million to build a new arena, although the NBA's New Jersey Nets will spend $800 million on one in Brooklyn. A large portion of that was the cost of land, Hirsh said.

He said an arena could be built on as little as 7 to 8 acres, which is about the size of the parcel the Hansen investment group has shown an interest in acquiring. A limited liability corporation headed by Hansen recently purchased 3 acres on the east side of Occidental Avenue South between South Massachusetts and South Holgate streets.

Hirsh pointed to San Antonio as an example of a small-market city making a new arena pencil out financially. The AT&T Center is home to three teams — the Spurs, the WNBA's Silver Stars and the American Hockey League's Rampage. It also hosts a three-week rodeo as well as concerts and events.

The building was a partnership between the city and the Spurs, with San Antonio voters approving a visitor's tax on hotels, motels and rental cars to finance three-fourths of the costs and the team contributing the rest, said Rick Pych, president of business operations for San Antonio Spurs Sports.

Hirsh said many pieces remain to be put together to make a new arena work in Seattle. And he reiterated what the mayor and council members have said, that there is no firm proposal. But he said the developer is very motivated..

"Do I think it will be easy? No. Do I think we can put together a deal? Yes."
Local News | Council irked that McGinn didn't reveal hiring of arena consultant | Seattle Times Newspaper

If you go to the linked story and look at the contract with the consultant, page 12 you can see what he was hired to do for the city.

In a rare turn of events I will praise the mayor; he did the right thing, the right way.
He kept the situation close to him, worked to understand what is possible, framed his response in I-91 terms (which are almost meaningless since what is being proposed would more than satisfy that), and hired a real pro.

Had he gone to the council before doing any and all of that then this story would have been sandbagged by the sports haters.
I have thought that this would be his eventual downfall politically, but maybe not, hard to say now. His base of support involves some people that ride bikes and hate pro sports, and some that ride bikes and make movies about the loss of the Sonics, (and a f-ing great moving about biking through China). Does he keep the anti pro sports folks, does he then pick up the downtown business association because of this?
Very strange, I think it becomes a big positive for him but I don’t think it helps enough at the ballot box.

Good for him, good for


Peter said...

What do you mean by "what is being proposed will more than satisfy I-91?". I hope the source the poster on sc is right and the arena is privately funded, but we don't know that. It really troubled me that the consultant mentioned hotel and car rental taxes in the article. Does he actually think we can do the same here? The response from the sports haters would be brutal. I guess they could make sure the proposal meets I-91 standards and then say that the people already spoke when they approved I-91 so big, but that would be problematic too. Either way, Seattle better jump on this or Bellevue will beat them out.

Mr Baker said...

I am referring to the politics of the situation, not the practical and factual. McGinn captured the narrative.

At no point do I ever expect anything short of "more than satisfy I-91". That is essentially meaningless, but most be addressed politically. Not addressing that, and resolving it from the start, would allow the I-91 blather to drag down the overall narrative, even though it is meaningless in practical terms.

His approach was correct, he gave up nothing (the "sleeves off his vest").

Read the actual quotes from the council, nothing really negative with I-91 not in question.

Peter said...

maybe this is just the council covering their asses until the proposal is revealed. at least i hope so. if it is a good deal with a large amount of private money, the city should at least try.

Anonymous said...

This looks to be McGinn's last chance for a big win. I hope he gets this one. For those keeping count this will be the third attempt to build an arena in SODO:

1)Circa 1988 on former Sonics owner Barry Ackerley's land where Safeco now sits.

2)Howard Schultz--Believe it or not with Nitze-Stagen's very ambitious and breathtaking Vision 46 development on Pier 46. The Port of Seattle declined and re-upped with Hanjin shipping.

Now we have Valiant Capital, Chris Hansen, Mayor McGinn and the much unfairly (thanks for setting the story straight SonicsGate) maligned Wally Walker taking a stab at it. I really hope the third time is the charm.

Mr Baker said...

A lot has happened in that area since 1988, the latest the development of the north parking lot from the newer stadiums.

I'm just glad they are not dreaming of the port property west. Of the current spot.

Peter said...

Hirsh referred to seattle as a "small market", which I dont think is the case. Are we the 12th Biggest market in the country? That seems like a pretty big market to me. Maybe he was talking about how many teams we currently have?

Mr Baker said...

Small probably isn't the right word but it should be noted how steep the curve bends down in population and media size from the top 3 to 5, then you trend into mid-size markets until you get into the top 25 to 30.
A comparison I like is that there are more people in the Seattle market that want NBA basketball than there are total people in OKC.

Now look up at Chicago, they could reasonable support the Bears, Cubs, Socks, Bulls, Blackhawks, and another NBA team.
800 million is a doable number to put the Nets in NY. That almost is Safeco and Seahawks Stadiums combined.

By the end of this decade we could see two NFL teams back in LA.

Peter said...

I am hoping that Hansen was well aware of I-91 from working with the city. It seems to me that in order to meet I-91 standards the public investment would have to be minimal, if there was any at all. If there is any city investment, what do you see? I know nickels had fan fees in the ballmer key plan. It says in the hirsh contract that hirsh had to meet with city leaders all through the process. I think that means a lot more than the mayor, probably even the council. For that much to be going on and the council not knowing about it? I'm calling bs. Crap journalism.

Anonymous said...

Kinda off topic, but is the currently unfunded Century 21 plan for Seattle Center dead or comatose? I ask this knowing that Key Arena wasn't (and probably shouldn't be)part of the renovation plan. If the stars align and the Sodo Arena plan actually gets somewhere I can see SC and the Key being huge stumbling blocks for the city council. What do you think?

Mr Baker said...

The Seattle Center plan went to sleep. Seattle Center is not part of the Parks Committee anymore. It is part of Libraries, another city thing in line for asking for funding.

I think Key Arena being replaced by a new arena in King County is inevitable, Seattle or Bellevue.
Knowing that, does the city dig in its heels and have Bellevue replace Key Arena anyway?
It's possible, but unlikely.

The Center plan had one brief description of Key Arena, no plan, mostly because it was in a state of flux at the time. The Sonics have left since that was put together.

If I am Seattle, I use Key Arena to my advantage as an asset, a temporary home during construction while a new building is built. That is the best case scenario for Key Arena. Worst case is they completely choke and don't even capture status and revenue as a temporary home, and a building is built anyway.

Either way, I think they need to think about what to do with the facility after the solve library funding, which is after solving the waterfront funding/design plan for the sea wall rework. I think that looking at where they are in line they could use a finite timetable of a new building being built to force renewed focus.

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