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Clay Bennett’s $30 million for Sonics move is safe — for now

Post by News Tribune Staff on April 27, 2009 at 8:09 am with No Comments »
April 27, 2009 8:09 am

The Oklahoma Thunder (formerly Seattle Sonics, formerly Seattle SUPERSonics) would have owed Seattle an additional $30 million if the Legislature had given Seattle the means to pay for a $75 million NBA arena.

But that bill failed to pass the Legislature. Seattle still has until the end of the year to persuade the Legislature to do something, and it might be a candidate for a special session. If there is a special session.

There was more in the bill, SB 6116, — money for Husky Stadium, for Pioneer Square, Seattle’s International District, low-income housing — but I’ll have to get to that later. In the meantime, here’s an update from a couple of the principals.


Statement from Sen. Ed Murray and Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles on Senate Bill 6116, authorizing the extension of local taxes for the arts, affordable housing, KeyArena renovations and other community projects

OLYMPIA — Sen. Ed Murray and Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles released the following statement on the failure of the Senate to bring Senate Bill 6116, excise taxes in a county with a population of one million five hundred thousand or more, to a vote.

"The Senate Sunday night was unable to move forward on Senate Bill 6116. After a long session and scheduled sine die this Sunday, no action was taken.

"Widely misperceived as ‘the Stadium Bill,’ SB 6116 would have authorized King County to provide support to a variety of programs that would benefit our communities, such as low-income housing, arts, heritage and cultural programs, and tourism promotion. These funds could have helped programs throughout King County.

"In addition, this bill would have authorized the continuation of two existing taxes that are currently in place which could have helped in renovating KeyArena. These include the restaurant and car rental taxes that are raised only within the City of Seattle.

"SB 6116 would have met the terms of the agreement set last year between the City of Seattle and the Oklahoma Ownership group that took the Sonics to Oklahoma City. We are very disappointed that we were not able to move forward legislation that would force Clay Bennett to pay the $30 million in 2013 as put forth in the settlement agreement. We offered several amendments that met the qualifications of the terms but were unable to get the necessary number of votes to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote.

"It is unfortunate that confusion about the purpose of a pre-existing tax killed a bill that would have strengthened our community. The Legislature has granted authorization for use of local sales tax for such purposes to jurisdictions across our state, but the political will did not exist to grant it for Seattle and King County.

"If the Legislature goes into a special session sometime during this year, we will continue conversations around SB 6116. We will work with the opponents of this bill and try to reach an agreement."

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