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.
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McGinn agreed to a $19,500-per-month contract in July with a nationally prominent sports-facilities consultant, Carl Hirsh.
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"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 ArenaSolution.org.