Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Seattle Arena Deal Approved; Union to Sue

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union says it plans to sue over a recently approved plan to build a $490 million sports arena near the waterfront, saying the location jeopardizes jobs at and near the Port of Seattle.

Seattle and King County councils on Oct. 15 gave final approval to a plan to construct the combination basketball/hockey venue in Seattle’s SoDo area. Under the plan, $200 million of the funding would come from public bonds, with the rest raised by developer Chris Hansen. The public investment would be paid back through rent money and taxes from the arena under the plan.

But prior to the vote, ILWU Local 19 revealed that it plans to file suit in King County Superior Court challenging the agreement with the developer.

The lawsuit will be filed, according to ILWU attorney David Mann, because the City of Seattle and King County have committed public funds to a project without completing an environmental impact study on the proposed site.

“We cannot stand idly by while Mr. Hansen and his well-connected lobbyists, along with our elected officials, build an arena in a location that threatens the livelihood of our members and many other workers in the maritime industry,” Local 19 President Cameron Williams said.

The Port of Seattle has also previously urged caution regarding the arena proposal. Container operations, railway lines and truck activity are all currently located within blocks of the proposed arena site, and multiple Port of Seattle studies have determined that traffic congestion and pressure on industrial businesses brought by a sports facility near the waterfront could squeeze out small businesses, disrupt port operations and limit the potential for port growth.

A recent revision to the plan, however, includes a $40 million road improvement fund. The fund, which would be covered by tax revenues, would go toward the study and prioritization of area transportation improvements.