15 February 2007
How the proposed new arena at Renton, Seattle's answer to Del City, will be financed:
Senate Bill 5986 would extend several taxes paying off existing sports stadiums to fund a new arena, arts groups and stadium maintenance.
Sales taxes: A .017 percent sales tax for Safeco Field debt would be extended by 17 years, to 2029, raising $150 million. A separate .016 percent sales tax for Qwest Field debt would be extended by eight years, to 2029, raising $77 million.
Restaurant tax: A 0.5 percent tax on restaurant meals and drinks for Safeco Field debt would remain until 2015, raising $75 million.
Car rental taxes: A 2 percent car-rental tax for Safeco Field debt, and another 0.75 percent car-rental tax for Kingdome debt, would be extended until 2012, raising $40 million.
Hotel/motel tax: After Qwest Field debt is paid off in 2021, a 2 percent tax on hotel- and motel-room rentals would be split between the new arena and arts groups, raising $81 million.
That's $423 million of the projected $530 million. Sonics owner Clay Bennett has said he expects the city of Renton to fork over a few dollars; Mayor Kathy Keolker says if the city is assured of a revenue stream, she will ask the Council for "an investment commensurate with those new revenues."
If nothing else, those who insisted that Bennett was planning all along to move the team may be slightly less insistent for the moment.
Update, 11:15 am: Speaker of the Washington House Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) objects, and in his list of complaints I find this:
They ought to get their own financial house in order when their payroll is over $50 million for, what is it, 10 players? I think that's a little ridiculous. They need to get their own financial house in order and if they did, they wouldn't have to ask for public help.
Well, actually, it's 15 players, and if this chart is accurate, the Sonics have the sixth lowest payroll in the NBA. If Chopp is really upset with player salaries, perhaps he should take it up with the union.