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My Buddy Chris Van Dyk

I am learning lately that I greatly underestimate my own quotability.

One quick comment in the heat of a conversation and the next thing I know Van Dyk and I are on the front page of the Sports Section…

I am not sure how much media time I will have available today. One of my oldest friends is on annual leave from Iraq and I don’t want to give up irreplaceable time for the Sonics. All the media who read this blog can take this as my official response if you are unable to contact me.

The relationship with Chris Van Dyk is an odd one. While some have heavily criticized the “reach out” on both our parts I made the decision that with our teams under siege we had to use every resource available to us. Early on I felt that the “novelty factor” of creating an alliance with CFMIT would benefit our side more than it benefited theirs. Further it would help ensure the 3 year lease enforcement which was without question on of the most critical parts of this process. What we have both found is that working together on things was not a novelty. So long as we work together for the areas we have in common there is a legitimately powerful and viable alliance that has enough credibility to get people to listen to our issues.

Van Dyk and I are as unlikely of a pairing as Clayton Bennett and Seattle. We have, and still do differ greatly on the details and I have little doubt that we’ll clash in the future. I do however understand that when dealing with other people, especially those with differing agendas the very first step to drawing consensus is finding common ground.

Chris and I have spoken extensively on this issue. One of the things that became apparent early is that both of us felt that, if there was going to be all this effort to finding a solution, then the best case would be to do so on the Seattle Center grounds. The Seattle Center is supposed to be an integral part of our urban culture and it is falling apart. Renovations of the Center are politically palatable for a very wide range of people, including arena opponents. While renovations are possible without an anchor tenant they are significantly harder. We really shared a vision of the center as a vibrant, bustling urban center that combined everything we love about the “park” atmosphere with new upgrades that made it a first class destination for people to come to.

What I found fascinating as the conversation progressed is that there were options out there that sounded reasonable to me, and which Van Dyk and his team would agree to in concept with the understanding that the public good more than offset the investment in keeping the Sonics, even with a substantial public arena package.

The end proposal is anything but a finished project. It is a concept which we feel is tremendously creative and results in not only a Sonics solution but a complete and total revitalization of the Seattle Center, providing a tremendous boost to lower Queen Anne. We have jointly presented to significant local developers. These private contributors have, in rough conceptual terms signed off on its viability and the estimated numbers involved.

There is rightful concern about any development of the Seattle Center park system in a manner that is not to the public benefit. The best safeguard for the public is the inclusion of all of our different interests into the early process. I won’t stop advocating for sports fans and Van Dyk certainly will not sacrifice the public interest in order to get an arena done.

What I do not want is for this to be in any way a “sideshow” that detracts from the Mayors or Governors plans to keep the teams here. I know that both offices are working very hard on this issue and it is very likely that they have more information than I have. At some point however we need to hit some type of consensus for a plan that all parties can live with. If conversations between Van Dyk and I can create a starting point, and our concept gets redlined until it is a completely different document then that is fine. If it serves as nothing more than a reminder that different interests can find common ground then maybe that has some importance as well.

What I do know is that, through real conversation we have gotten Chris Van Dyk and Nick Licata to start working on solutions to this problem. In the process we have all decided to engage in real dialogue about under what circumstances they would not present an obstacle. I do hope that somewhere someone catches onto that fact and tries to use their position as a starting point for a solution.

A Deal is a Deal was a great step. Both I-91 and I-93 turned out to be great strategic roadblocks in accomplishing political missions. I know that I never want to be known for roadblocks. Its time for absolutely everybody to start putting together solutions.