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Update: Judge rejects first lawsuit against Seattle arena

Feb 23, 2013, 12:41 AM EDT


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.

  1. saint1997 - Feb 23, 2013 at 1:58 AM

    I’m sick of this. Move or don’t move but right now the NBA is playing with 29 franchises and 1 extra team to fill in the schedule. This team has the ability to get better and if it had any idea of its future could start making good moves to improve the team. It doesn’t look like that is happening however

  2. badintent - Feb 23, 2013 at 2:00 AM

    My company just did a party for port officials on a new tanker. 6 Longshornmen stood around, did nothing to help us bring our food and supplies on board. And went out of their way to complain and come up with phony excuses not to help us with a cargo net. They work maybe an hour and get paid for 8. Sound like Teamsters ? Damn right ! REally happy the judge threw out their BS suit.

  3. allidoiswin55 - Feb 23, 2013 at 3:42 AM

    This deal is done let’s move past it. The other owners would do nothing but benefit if they allow it.

    Not many owners will disapprove the sale just because they will at some point want to sell their own franchise and also they will each get a nice little check for a relocation fee. And the nba gets a fee.

    Sign it up Sonics are back. Not fair not nice and messed up but definitely going to happen. Sorry sac fans I feel your pain but I swear there’s no spite in me saying that you should do your best to get over it asap won’t do any good.

  4. seattlenative57 - Feb 23, 2013 at 4:14 AM

    Owners are unlikely to vote against one of their own and an agreed upon sale … highly unlikely. Any one of them could be in the same position, needing to sell, and would expect the blessing of their brethren. Rejecting this sale would create a precedent no present owner wants to face in the future. Get the moving vans ready.

  5. davidly - Feb 23, 2013 at 4:42 AM

    Kurt–reownin’ the sport metaphor!

  6. davidly - Feb 23, 2013 at 4:57 AM

    Whether the longshoremen’s rep’s concerns are taken at face value or not, the issue is definitely legit, as Kurt lays out in this post.

    Nevertheless, this whole thing stinks to all-high-holy-hell and has from the beginning. From the Maloofs to some hedge-fund manager, to whoever else can whack-a-mole the fastest, the spoils go to the winner, and the winner is not the greater of the greater good– whoever wins the rights to employ the schmo who’ll man the cheese-jerk stand, notwithstanding.

    Bottom line is what it’ll come down to, and what it’ll come down to is who greases the other owners “and associates” the most. We can pretend it ain’t so, but it is.

  7. echech88 - Feb 23, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    Hard to imagine the other owners throwing themselves in front of something that could set a precedent for them to have their own potential moves or sales blocked. Even if they have no intention to move, they will always want that threat available to them when extorting local governments.

    The Kings leaving can be the next greedy owner’s first argument: “Look what happened in Sacramento when they refused to approve an arena for over a decade and only jumped in at the last minute”

    • brianspider - Feb 23, 2013 at 9:46 AM

      But, don’t forget if the Kings move a different precedent is set. Over the last few decades, the NBA has received over 3 billion dollars in public subsidies to aid in arena efforts. We all know they rely on the threat of relocation to hold cities hostage. A move could drastically damage this tactic. When considering public subsidy in the future, cities could ask the question “Why waste city resources to even try to move forward on a project? Look what happened in Sacramento. They jumped through every hoop that was asked to them, put together what the NBA itself called a “model” for public subsidy in developing an arena, and the team still moved. Maybe we shouldn’t even waste our time.” You have a valid point, but we now have to ask which precedent is more damaging financially to each individual owner.

      • Kurt Helin - Feb 23, 2013 at 7:23 PM

        To be honest, Sacramento is not the first city to make that claim and will not be the last.

  8. pmangarola - Feb 23, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    doesn’t matter they’ll get it eventually

  9. dans761 - Feb 23, 2013 at 7:44 PM

    Moving a team is wrong. It was wrong in 2008 and it is wrong today. That’s said, this is the NBA’s business model we are simply pawns in all this? Do I want the Kings to move? No. Do I want the Sonics back? Yes. Is this selfish of me? Sure! Hansen did EVERYTHING the NBA told us to do to get an arena. Hansen spent 2 years working on this project. He’s spent his own money 60 million on land. He gathered the support from city and county councils via votes to move on with this project. Hansen has been working closely with the NBA on this, I can’t see how they can say no after all this work Hansen/Ballmer have done! Sacramento still doesn’t have an arena, no investors all while KJ is feeding his own ego while relying on whatever relationship he thinks he has with the NBA. It’s sad to see the Kings go but that’s the NBA for you. If Sacramento wants to have a NBA team in the future theyll have to do what Seattle did. If David Stern had a soul he would find a way to have both cities have a team. Giving Seattle the dignity of expansion and the Kings staying in Sacramento (if they have a real plan in place). That would be the right thing but the NBA usually doesn’t do what’s right

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