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McGinn gets big win with Sonics deal

mayor mcginn july 13 2011SEATTLE — Most in Seattle are happy about the Kings sale to the Seattle investment group. None more so than Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.

The news of the Kings sale is a big win for McGinn who was the original champion of this deal. McGinn worked hard with investor Chris Hansen on an arena plan that paved the way for Monday’s big news.

On Monday, the mayor was in Washington D.C. attending the President’s inauguration, but took time to comment on the announcement of the team’s sale.

“It’s good news,” he said.  “We’ve been working a long time, and we’ve tried to work hard in Seattle to set the stage so that Chris Hansen could go seek to acquire a team.”

The mayor said he sympathized with sports fans in Sacramento.

“If ,mayors made the rules, I think we’d be talking about expansion and not the situation we are in,” he said.  “We know this is hard on Sacramento.”

While Monday’s news means basketball back in Seattle is close at hand, there are a few big hurdles left to jump. Two lawsuits have been filed to block the arena. The first claims that the SoDo site was chosen without a thorough environmental review. And a second contends the arena deal violates the voter approved Initiative 91, requiring that the public get a fair return for any investment.

“This is an unsecured $200 million construction loan,” said attorney Cleveland Stockmeyer who filed the lawsuit.  “Bank of America would never give a loan like we are giving, and if they did, their shareholders would sue the directors for being reckless.”

McGinn dismissed Stockmeyer’s challenge.

“We’re not raising taxes, we’re not going into our general fund,” he said. “We’ll get all our money back that we put into it, plus we’ll get the land and the arena at the end of the deal.”

Two challengers in this year’s Mayor’s race weighed in Monday.

“Bringing a million more cars to that area is going to cause increased traffic congestion and possibly slow and hamper our freight operations,” said Peter Steinbrueck, who favors an arena site in the Rainier Valley instead.

Tim Burgess, another Mayoral candidate, said the city council deserves credit as well.

“We sent a letter to Chris Hansen telling him the deal was dead, was not going to advance, unless we could negotiate better protections for the public,” he said. “We made it a much better deal.”

McGinn seemed to welcome having the arena as an issue in this year’s Mayor’s race.

“We’re going to have a big race.  A lot of people are in it,” he said.  “We’re going to have a great debate about Seattle’s future.”

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