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Sonics Unveil Arena Financing Plan

UPDATE: Margarita Prentice had a great Op-Ed piece in this morning's Seattle Times. This is a great opportunity for fans of the teams ro write the paper with an endorsement of the plan. Letters to the editor should be no more than 200 words, concise, and sent to opinions@seattletimes.com

PLEASE SEND A LETTER! All the other papers should also be mailed if possible.

Lastly there is an interesting event coming up tomorrow with Slick Watts and I'm told maybe a couple of Sonics players in attendance. Cooinciding with this Sonics event will be a public art unveiling featuring the Mayor, County Council Members, and possibly even our old buddy Nick Licata. I'll be there and hope we can get some other support in Green and Gold.

One of the courts that recently received a face lift will be on display Saturday, Feb. 10 at Van Asselt Park in South Seattle. The Seattle Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a grand opening of the renovated and expanded Community Center at Van Asselt with Sonics Legend Slick Watts joining the festivities. Sonics & Storm fans are encouraged to attend the celebration from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in their favorite Green and Gold gear. Van Asselt Park is located at 2820 S. Myrtle Street, next to the New Holly campus

The Professional Basketball Club today released new details regarding their proposed public financing for a world class, multi-purpose arena in either Bellevue or Renton. Expectations are that a proposed owner contribution, as well as a site selection will follow within the next week or so.

As expected the proposed taxes largely mirror the successful packages put in place for Safeco and Qwest Fields. Allocations or extensions of taxes on restaurants, rental cars, and hotels would be paid largely by visitors.

It should be noted that there are NO NEW TAXES whatsoever involved in this financing plan, nor is there any significant charge to local taxpayers who would perhaps be hit the hardest by the restaurant tax, a mere $.50 per hundred dollar tab.

In addition to these taxes the team is requesting that a state sales tax credit, currently allocated and approved for county economic development be contributed to the arena. This type of funding was recently used to build a convention center in Wenatchee as well as various other state projects.

One notable highlight of this package is that it is projected to generate $430 million with only the first $300 million being applicable to the arena. Additional funds would be available for other projects. Also the proposal would dedicate a 1% Hotel/Motel tax toward local arts funding with 1% going towards the arena. Under current Stadium financing the entire 2% tax goes toward Qwest and Safeco.

Proposed public financing for a world-class multi-purpose arena in King County – SB 5986

The public portion of financing for the proposed multi-purpose arena would come from existing tax sources – no new taxes – levied entirely in and as approved by King County. All the taxes sources are already in place and being used to finance facilities. Revenues above $300 million will be available for other purposes.

SUMMARY OF FINANCING PACKAGE: (apologies for format)

Sales Tax Credit for Safeco Field – .017%

This credit against the 6.5% state sales tax has already been approved by the Legislature (along with a similar tax credit in the box below) for every county in the state to use for economic development. Would extend from 2012 to 2029 (after Safeco Field bonds paid off.) $150 million

Sales Tax Credit for Qwest Field – 0.16%

As with the tax credit above, this credit against the 6.5% state sales tax has already been approved by the Legislature for every county in the state to use for economic development. Would extend from 2021 to 2029 (after Qwest Field bonds are paid off). $77 million

Restaurant Sales Tax for Safeco Field – 0.5 %

This tax is generating revenue at a quicker pace than anticipated which, along with the tax credit (above), is enabling the Safeco Field bonds to be paid off early. From 2012 through 2015, 25 cents on a $50 restaurant bill or 50 cents on a $100 restaurant bill. $75 million

Car Rental Tax for Safeco Field, 2%, and the Kingdome, 0.75%

As with the first tax credit (above) and restaurant tax, the 2% tax is helping pay off the Safeco Field bonds. The 0.75% pays off Kingdome bonds. From 2012 through 2015, $2 on each $100 for a car rental in King County; starting In 2016, 75 cents on each $100. 2% = $18 million; 0.75% = $22 million

Hotel/Motel Tax for Qwest Field, 1%

This is currently a 2% tax, but the proposal seeks only 1% of it; the remaining 1% would be directed to fund the arts beginning in 2021. Starting in 2021, $1 per $100 of a lodging bill. Paid primarily by out-of-county visitors. $81 million

(Note: This is total revenue with the first priority for arts and facility maintenance.) TOTAL $423 million