Hansen's Sodo arena proposal would boost jobs while protecting vital services
Chris Hansen's Sodo arena proposal will significantly boost jobs that are desperately needed in this struggling economy, write two local supporters of the plan.
Special to The Times
CHRIS Hansen's proposal to build a multipurpose arena in Seattle's Stadium District will bring construction jobs and permanent jobs to our local economy as we struggle to maintain Seattle's recovery from the Great Recession.
The recent unemployment reports reminded us of that fragility with an increase in the unemployment rate in Washington state. We should not pass on this unique opportunity to support our local workforce.
These jobs are real. And they're desperately needed. Construction jobs are family-wage jobs — when the construction trades are still experiencing 40 percent unemployment, every new job is vital.
It's not often that private investors come forward with a proposal to spend $290 million of their own money to build a state-of-the-art arena in Seattle, plus a projected $500 million to buy an NBA franchise.
And while Chris Hansen may have resettled in San Francisco, he was raised in the Rainier Valley. He remembers his roots. We are impressed with his commitment to local hiring and supporting a diverse workforce — both in the construction, operation and management of the new arena. This commitment to a shared prosperity and equal access to jobs directly addresses the high unemployment rates among people of color in comparison with the general unemployment rate.
Common sense tells us that the arena will support existing and new jobs in Seattle as a whole. The return of the Sonics means the city would have sporting events during the winter months. Those events would support the hospitality and tourism industry — the NBA and NHL seasons alone could fill at least 5,000 hotel room nights per season.
The construction of the arena would generate more than an estimated $15 million in sales-tax revenue for the state, revenue sorely needed now after years of devastating cuts to education and basic human services. This supports jobs, too.
The arena proposal, as submitted by Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine to their respective councils, creates jobs and protects important city and county services. We believe Hansen's arena proposal is the best deal for the public of any sports stadium built here in nearly 75 years.
The unprecedented security provisions in the memorandum of understanding, as negotiated with Hansen, significantly shield the city and county general funds from risk.
We feel confident that even in the highly unlikely event of an ownership group's bankruptcy, critical funding for job-training programs, shelters, emergency services and other core functions of government will go unscathed. We would not support the construction of the new arena if we doubted the sturdiness of those protections. We encourage you to review those security provisions on the city's website at http://www.seattle.gov/arena/docs.
We urge the Seattle and King County councils to approve the memorandum of understanding to construct a new arena in Sodo and bring our Sonics back where they belong.Ollie Garrett, left, is president of Tabor 100, a Seattle nonprofit that promotes economic empowerment for minorities. Lee Newgent is executive secretary of Seattle-King County Building and Construction Trades Council.