Earlier today our Aaron Bruski laid out in detail how lawsuits and the environmental review process for a proposed new arena in Seattle is no slam dunk. It’s another sign of how Sacramento is not out of this.
But one of the two lawsuits trying to challenge the Seattle project was tossed out by a judge on Friday. This one by the port’s longshoreman’s union challenged the site selection process. From the Associated Press:
King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North held that the agreement between the city of Seattle, King County and an investment group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen does not violate state environmental law.
“This is a big win in our work to bring the Sonics home to Seattle,” Mayor Mike McGinn said in a written statement.
Hansen, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and a group of investors have an agreement to purchase the majority of the Kings and then move the team to Seattle. The league is reviewing their application for a vote in April. Part of that plan calls for a new arena in the South Downtown area (SODO) where there are already arenas for the Seahawks and Mariners. There are traffic concerns in the area, something to be discussed and suggested solutions to be part of the environmental document underway now.
For the longshoreman, they have concerns that traffic congestion in the SODO area, near the port, could slow goods movement and with that growth of the port. Meaning its union jobs. The lawsuit would have given the port and union leverage in trying to get more traffic mitigation in the area. But these kinds of lawsuits are pretty standard for any large development.
As its press conference last week, NBA Commissioner David Stern blew off concerns about the lawsuits against the project, or any that could come in Sacramento.
In Sacramento, mayor Kevin Johnson is putting together a competitive package, with billionaire owners willing to buy the team and plans for a new arena downtown, that will be presented to the league next week and eventually to the other NBA owners when the Board of Governors meet in April.
In the end that is who will decide this. Seattle can act like the deal is done, Sacramento can put together a quality alternative proposal, and it will come down to what the 29 other NBA owners decide. If they vote to go back to Seattle, that will happen. If they reject that sale the Maloof family likely will have to deal with a sale o the team to the new proposed local owners.
Everything before the owners vote is window dressing. Including this tossed lawsuit.