Times article here.
Prelude to a lease buyout or a way to prop up the useless, expensive white elephant that is Seattle Center?
Of course, a voluntary conservancy would be good for Seattle Centerâ€”according to its financial office, only 25 to 30 percent of the Center's budget comes from the city. The rest has to be scrounged: rent (when tenants can pay it), grounds fees, parking, cuts of ticket revenue from Bumbershoot. This summer, there are Toyota banners hanging on lampposts, pimping a new kind of truck to passersby. The Center has to make money somehow.
A survey conducted by Seattle Center showed that, in 2005, only one quarter of its visitors came from inside the city. One quarter came from somewhere else in King County. One half came from outside the county. Seattle Center is a park for people from elsewhere.
So much for vacation. The last hour has been spent squating in the corner in a wet bathingsuit and talking on my cel phone plugged into the only visible wall outlet.
Here's what I know:
Today is the day to simply FLOOD the mayors office with requests to not discuss any buyout of Key Arena's lease.
I have been involved in pretty extensive but unofficial Seattle Center talks for the last several weeks which may or may not have been part of this announcement. My feeling is that they were probably unrelated but you never know. I can say that there are people throughout the city of Seattle who are very concerned about the future of Seattle Center and my gut feeling, based on detailed discussions is that the City is willing to talk about some offers that are pretty dang reasonable. If Clay is serious, and willing to compromise there is the chance of a deal getting done.
One well to do source indicated to me that he has heard rumblings of this announcement for about a week and also that his perception was that there will be honest communciation about staying. Another indicated that this was a sham, simply an excuse to talk about a buyout.
We need to be unified in our belief that a buyout of the exsiting lease is not an option. I am happy to say that the folks at Citizens For More Important Things will be issuing a statement in support of enforcing the lease to 2010. They, and by association Council Chairman Nick Licata understand that any acceptance of a buyout by Nickels would be caving into Bennett plain and simple and is bad for the community. Without going into detail I want to say that I'm really thankful to Chris VanDyk for his support on this issue and that he has really demonstrated that there is always some common ground even when groups have divergent agendas.
Again through conversation I have been convinced that a compromise solution does exist at the Seattle Center site. Now we'll see if he is serious about pursuing solutions or just searching for a buyout.