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Commentary: The Port of Seattle should be KeyArena’s backup plan for renovation funds

We start with the biggest news of the day: Seattle Partners has withdrawn their proposal for consideration for the redevelopment of KeyArena. And they’re blasting the city for their handling of the selection process.

Writes Seattle Partners Letter: “Significant factors through the bidding process have eroded our confidence in the ultimate execution of this project, no matter which group is selected. We fear the City is driving toward an unrealistic financing structure, and we believe the City has failed to conduct a sufficiently thorough, objective and transparent process to properly evaluate the respective strengths and weaknesses of the two proposals.”

“Consistent with a general lack of active engagement through this evaluation process, the City declined to seek improved terms, refusing requests from us and others to call for a ‘best and final’ offer from both bidders. We have seen little indication of the collaborative and iterative process we were told to expect...”

As a parting shot, they went on to say that they have strong reservations about Oak View Group’s proposal – and whether it can be successful, within the City’s best interests. Plain and simple – this isn’t a good look for Mayor Murray and everyone involved.

So now...there were two: Oak View Group and Chris Hansen’s SODO Arena plan. But I think we’re overlooking the one group that’s shown the most enthusiasm for the KeyArena location.

In my opinion, The Port of Seattle should pay for the entire KeyArena renovation!

After all, in Port Email For Air just obtained by Q13 News, the Port was so anxious to help, they asked their own general counsel: “What is within the Port’s authority with respect to helping the City of Seattle explore the feasibility...of KeyArena. We have indicated our support...in the past... and now need to understand what is within our realm to help the effort. Some examples could be….

Financial support for related traffic impact studies
Financial support for economic impact studies
Financial support towards the redevelopment itself

...Commissioner (John) Creighton asked how we might be able to help lend our tourism authority under the law to redevelopment at the Key.”

Tourism authority! Now THAT is some creativity. Well, guys, if you really want to lend a helping hand, and if you’re actually exploring using more public money to support this cause…. Why don’t you just pay for it all yourselves? Let’s bend that “Tourism Authority Clause” into a pretzel, and squeeze it for all it’s worth!

I mean, you’re no longer on the hook for a parking garage at The Key – that’s about $40 million. You’re getting $72 million this year from a public tax levy. You’re no longer giving $4.8 million in illegal bonuses to your employees.

You don’t have to pay the Seattle Times $290,000 for a partnership that publisher Frank Blethen proposed last year on the heels of anti-SODO Arena editorials, and you can add the $185,000 of public money you’re spending on a consulting firm to promote the KeyArena location.

And, of course, we can’t forget that Port Commission President Tom Albro owns Seattle Monorail Services, which will directly benefit from a renovation as well! The monorail business will skyrocket when you renovate the Key. This arena will practically pay for itself!

After all, the Port of Seattle has put so much time and energy and even money into fighting the SODO location and promoting The Key, that they should just own it and make it their legacy. Build that arena for all of us – build it for the city – build it to save the maritime industry as we know it, or at least, as you claim it needs to be saved down in SODO.

You asked the questions in the email, so why not take the next step? Jump in with both feet. All the sports fans have your back.

To use your catchphrase that was abandoned on the cutting room floor, “Key Up Seattle,” my friends. You, the Port of Seattle, are about to make history.