There was media coverage over the weekend about the proposed SODO arena and I want to provide some context for my comments.
The City, King County and the Hansen group have a legally binding agreement related to the SODO arena. That agreement includes a list of prerequisites that must be met before the public financing dollars become available. The original MOU remains in place and its terms are actionable if the prerequisites are met.
One of those prerequisites is the awarding of an NBA franchise to Seattle. (Section 24-d, page 34 of MOU) Everything we have read and heard indicates that this is not likely in the near future, so people have asked about alternative paths.
Some have asked whether the City would change the agreement to allow the Arena to proceed upon the award of an NHL team to Seattle. Shifting the agreement to accommodate an NHL team would be a material change in the terms of the agreement and, in my opinion, would require a substantial reduction or elimination of public financing. Such a change would also require County Council approval.
The original agreement was written to require the presence of an NBA team because not having an NBA team increased the financial risk to the City and County.