Opponents consider new initiative to stop new SoDo Sonics Arena

SEATTLE — The current arena deal calls for Seattle and King County to contribute up to $200 million in bond money to help pay for a Sonics arena in the SoDo neighborhood next to Safeco Field.

And the money becomes available only if billionaire Chris Hansen brings the Sonics back to Seattle.

”I oppose subsidies for billionaires,” attorney Cleveland Stockmeyer said at a news conference announcing that he is exploring a new initiative to stop the arena deal.

Opponents say they are working on a new, stronger version of Initiative 91, the 2006 law that prohibits taxpayer subsidies for sports arenas. Because that law is more than two years old, the City Council is now free to make changes.

Arena opponents don't want the council to vacate the portion of Occidental Avenue south of Safeco Field that is needed to build the arena.

Longshore and railroad unions are convinced that arena traffic will threaten their jobs.

“We welcome the return of NBA basketball to Seattle, but we need a new deal and a new location,” said John Persak of the longshore workers' union.

While an important truck and rail terminal is just three blocks from the arena.

Tomorrow council members will go over a city report that estimates no more than 7 minutes of additional travel time, even when all three sports venues are having simultaneous events.

Still opponents have no doubt they can pass a new initiative stopping the arena and preserving the port.

“When you look at these lands right here, you our industrial working lands, for a very special feature, which is our deep water port. That's something that not everybody has,” said 7th District congressional candidate Pramila Jayapal.