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Council Committee hears from independent expert panel on risks and benefits of arena proposal



The Metropolitan King County Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee heard from the independent expert panel today about the potential risks and benefits of the SODO arena proposal.

“Today’s discussion highlighted the proposals’ strengths and the areas where questions still remain,” said Budget Committee Chair Joe McDermott.

During the presentation, Bill Beyers, who is a professor at the University of Washington’s Department of Geography, argued for the importance of a full economic impact study.

“I’m hopeful that we can address these concerns through amendments like Councilmember Ferguson’s call for a further economic analysis if we move forward,” McDermott said.

Appointed by McDermott, the members of the panel are experts in economics, public finance, public-private partnerships, labor, urban development and transportation.

The panel has been reviewing the memorandum of understanding negotiated between investor Chris Hansen, County Executive Constantine and Seattle Mayor McGinn to construct a facility with the ability to host NBA and NHL teams in the SODO neighborhood. Today was the Budget Committee’s seventh meeting on the topic.

The panel highlighted the strength of this private-public partnership, stressed the protections given for the County’s General Fund and taxpayers and discussed the impact to traffic and our region’s infrastructure.

“No public-private partnership is risk-free, but the proposed arrangement protects taxpayer’s interests in ways that many other partnerships have not,” UW associate professor Justin Marlowe stated. Marlowe specializes in public capital markets, governmental and nonprofit accounting, public-private partnership, and state and local fiscal policy.

“I want to again thank these experts for offering complete insights and for volunteering a significant amount of their professional and personal time to helping the Council – and the public – better understand the proposal,” McDermott said.

There will be a joint public hearing with the King County Council and the Seattle City Council on Thursday, July 19. Doors open at 5:00 p.m., the hearing will start at 5:30 p.m. It will be held at the Bertha Knight Landes room in the City Hall.

The Budget and Fiscal Management Committee’s next meeting is July 17, 2012.

SODO Arena Proposal
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