Traffic questions take center stage during KeyArena MOU hearing

City budget director Ben Noble told the committee that the Oak View Group’s $40 million transportation fund payment is to be spread over a 39-year lease term. He suggested the city could issue public bonds against the pledged OVG money if it requires a lump sum in the short term.

A group planning a $600 million KeyArena renovation hopes to pay $40 million to a local transportation mitigation fund not as a lump sum, but spread out over a 39-year lease term.

That was one of the tidbits from Monday’s meeting of the Seattle City Council’s Select Committee on Civic Arenas, tasked with scrutinizing a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the renovation released last week. Los Angeles-based Oak View Group, paying for the renovation with private funds, hopes the council ratifies the deal by December to hasten the potential acquisition of an NHL expansion franchise.

But during Monday’s meeting — attended in a packed council chamber by dozens of sports fans, union members and local community groups and activists professing support for the deal — questions on mitigating traffic took center stage.

City budget director Ben Noble told the committee that OVG’s transportation fund payment is to be spread over the four-decade lease. Noble also suggested the city could issue public bonds for up to $20 million against the pledged OVG money if it requires a lump sum in the short term.

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Opposition to public bonding for sports played a role in the council denying a street-vacation request in May 2016 that effectively sank a proposal for a new arena for the city’s Sodo District pitched by entrepreneur Chris Hansen. That proposal included up to $200 million in bonding attached.

The opposition to public bonding for sports also factored in the city picking OVG as its KeyArena renovation partner over a rival proposal by the Seattle Partners group — which had asked for $250 million in such bonding.

But that bonding was for construction of arenas to benefit private developers. Brian Surratt, head of the city’s economic development office, said in an interview following Monday’s meeting that any transportation fund bonds would benefit public infrastructure.

“As we all know, that neighborhood is growing, and we’ve got a city responsibility in making sure that traffic is free flowing,” Surratt said. “We probably should be doing this regardless of an…

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