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Ride the Roller Coaster

Man! After spending the last few weeks building resolve to withstand months or years of inaction we get hit with these massive changes of conversation.

Lets talk a little bit about the NBA’s love affair with one of it’s greatest cities, their reported pressure on the Maloofs to sell, and the silliness of the EIS reporting. I will tell you that I believe the change in rhetoric is a really substantial signal. The NBA is huge and dominant, not very mobile so they control their messaging really closely. When there is this substantial of a shift in rumors and reports from league sources I generally believe that it is intentional and done for a specific purpose.

Regarding the Seattle Times and their front page story I just have to say that the Seattle Times efforts are starting to remind me of the Mariners offense. The fight is over guys. When will Lynn Thompson give some basic indication that the majority of the people want to see this happen.

I will try to put up something about the EIS process later today but prob. won’t have time. Needless to say the concept that a local government could use EIS to compel a private party to build in an alternative site is laughable. If they think one site does irrevocable harm to the city they can ask the applicant to pay to offset or mitigate that harm. If the applicant does not want to then they say no and take all their sunk costs in the project and go about their business. Both parties are compelled to find mutually agreeable terms because they will have invested a lot of time and resources into the project and ostensibly see benefit to completing the deal.

eg: If the EIS shows that building an additional arena in Sodo will create traffic requiring $20M in signage and improvements for the port of Seattle and necessitate $15M in renovations to convert KeyArena into an ice rink. They cannot force Chris Hansen to do this work, nor can they say “we are going to force you to invest your $290M into KeyArena to make these problems go away.”

What they can do is turn to him and say “We need you to pay this $35M if you want the public to participate in the site you’ve selected.”

At that point Hansen will be able to accept what they come up with, negotiate a middle ground, or walk away.

Mutual agreement is required from there. The city may decide that they will need to do $20M of that work anyway and they are getting a $40M fund to work with so it is all acceptable. They may take a hard line and say “we are willing to let you walk away.”

As of this time the city has said “we want to do this deal and have recognized the benefits.” If they change their minds they will face two issues. One would be a legal challenge by Chris saying “I invested this much time and money into the process and you reneged without proper basis.” He would then need to prove that allegation. The second would be the public judgement for first saying they wanted to do this and then later changing their minds. They will have failed to reach mutual agreement. It would be very embarrassed and they would have to substantially justify the basis for their failure to anticipate the issues.

Crazy week. I can’t see the Woj/Theil articles failing to generate more coverage next week.