The SuperSonics tomorrow will make an announcement regarding their Arena plans and I have enough information to make an educated guess regarding what it will entail. I must stress that involved parties have been extremely tight lipped. I have been in contact with relevant parties however this remains speculation on my part.
My belief is that the SuperSonics have narrowed their search down to 2 sites, the first in Bellevue along auto row and the second in Renton near "The Landing". It is possible that they will announce tomorrow which of these sites is the preferred option and which will remain as a contingency however their latest press release indicates that the expected announcement will be merely a "brief update". Should they make a significant announcement I do not expect them to exclude either site entirely but to focus heavily on the first option.
At this point it appears, but has not been confirmed that Bellevue has lept ahead of Renton. While Renton made an aggressive hunt a last minute push by the Bellevue business community, combined with the existing parking and infrastructure make it a better deal. Bellevue political leaders have been unwilling to tip their hats and get pushed into a bidding ware with Renton, however they want this arena badly and will work hard to acquire it. If Renton comes out as the suprise winner it will be the result of hard lobbying by both their Mayor and Washington State Senator Margarita Prentice's(Renton Rep) position on the house Way's and Means committee.
It is very unclear what type of details will be presented at tomorrow's press conference but the basic building concept should be unveiled along with the site. Expect to see a mixed use facility, likely with significant convention facilities. I would not be suprised if the arena is promised an all-star game upon approval and expect to hear mention of other proposed events to be hosted.
When it comes to finances the assumptions on my part are even larger and there could be many suprises ahead. It appears that the price-tag for this multi-use facility will be in the range of $500 million. The state will be willing to allocate funds in the range of $200 million from a variety of revenue sources, nearly all of which are considered "use taxes" in broad terms. Included in this will be $65 million in already approved stadium taxes on Restaurants and Hotels with the endorsement of the Washington Restaurant Assotiation who will be a critical supporter and sponsor of this bill. The team will commit another $100 million. The roughly $200 million will have to be generated from a combination of city funding and private contribution.
As the team brings their proposal to the table they ask Sonics fans to voice their support of the team. In conversations they have advised that the biggest obstacle they face is that opponents of professional sports are both organized and vocal. They ask that we be extremely active on radio stations, message boards, and communitty forums. Please contact local government and let them know that this is important to you.
To be of further assistance please register for updates at www.saveoursonics.org. Expect to see site updates and mailings in the wake of tomorrow's announcement and more action from us going forward. SOS has made 2 key presentations to the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce in recent weeks, organized several small but key PR events with local officials, and is scheduled for our first trip to Olympia on January 23. It is our exectation that multiple trips to Olympia will follow and we will need the support of Puget Sound residents to get our point across.