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Originally published October 9, 2012 at 4:15 PM | Page modified October 10, 2012 at 4:45 PM

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Final council votes coming on Sodo arena: Then, find teams

An agreement on an NBA arena in Sodo passed the Metropolitan King County Council's budget committee Tuesday, clearing the way for a final vote Monday by both the city and county councils.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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An agreement on an NBA arena in Seattle passed the Metropolitan King County Council's budget committee Tuesday, clearing the way for a final vote Monday by both the city and county councils.

Five members of the county council voted to approve the final details of a complex agreement with arena investor Chris Hansen, who has committed about $290 million to the $490 million project, but needed the city and county to pitch in $200 million, which would be repaid by money generated by the new arena.

Members Joe McDermott, Jane Hague, Julia Patterson, Larry Phillips and Kathy Lambert voted as part of the committee.

If both the city and council councils approve the agreement Monday, investors can look for a basketball team and also begin recruiting someone to bring a hockey team to town.

The agreement didn't come without some quibbling, in particular about the transportation money promised in the agreement. Patterson and Phillips wanted to make sure the arena-related transportation projects didn't have priority over other projects that have been waiting to be built.

"I'm still coming to terms with how I feel about the fact that in enabling that situation, I may be bumping transportation projects that have been waiting for a long, long time lower on the list," said Patterson.

But as they discussed the issue, they agreed they also didn't want arena-related projects to suffer. So they added an amendment to the amendment to clarify that arena-related projects should be able to compete equally for federal and state funding.

"It's a level playing field in both directions," said Phillips.

The meeting was briefly adjourned while Lambert and Phillips discussed the problem, while the budget-committee chairman, McDermott, stood by looking nervous.

In the end, the agreement was approved 5-0 with the amended amendment.

The City Council voted Sept. 24 to approve the three-way agreement, but they'll have to vote again on the county's amendment. City Council finance-committee chairman Tim Burgess said the amended language should not affect the City Council's support for the agreement.

Dave Gering, the director of the Manufacturing Industrial Council, was one of the most vocal critics of the arena plan. After Tuesday's vote, he said his group still doesn't like the location, but he's now resigned to the arena and focused on the transportation improvements promised in the agreement.

"I don't think you're going to find anyone on our side volunteering that they're supporting it," he said, adding: "I think this is heading in the right direction. You have to get more money for the Sodo Transportation Fund."

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or eheffter@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @EmilyHeffter.

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