Seattle Arena Lawsuit Dismissed; Chris Hansen Fined $50,000

Sep 9, 2013

The city of Seattle has no basketball team yet, but the fight over a proposed arena continues.

The state Court of Appeals upheld a decision to dismiss a lawsuit by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union over the proposed site for a new basketball arena in SODO.

The longshoremen argued that an environmental review should have happened before the city made an agreement with arena investor Chris Hansen.

The appeals court ruled that the Memorandum of Understanding between the city of Seattle, King County and Hansen did not constitute final approval for the project. In essence, the court wrote that there was no action as of yet to challenge.  

Attorney Peter Goldman argued the appeal for the union that represents the longshoremen.

He admits it was a difficult case. Still he said it was important. Goldman said the agreement unfairly stacked the deck in favor of the proposed site. “We stand by that position," Goldman said. "We still fear that too many important decisions have been made for the city and the county to maintain an open mind about other locations."

Goldman said the union will continue to raise objections regarding the environmental impacts of the arena's proposed location south of Safeco Field.

In May the city lost a bid to acquire the Sacramento Kings. In the meantime a draft version of the environmental impact statement was released last month.

A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday night at Seattle City Hall.

Campaign Violations In Sacramento

Also on Monday, a public watchdog agency in California released a proposed settlement with Hansen regarding campaign violations. The violations relate to Hansen’s secretive contributions to a citizen campaign that aimed to derail a new sports arena in Sacramento.  

Under the agreement with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, Hansen agreed to pay a $50,000 fine.

The FPPC documents say Hansen failed to file a campaign statement for contributions that qualified him as a "major donor." Hansen gave $100,000 to Sacramento’s anti-arena campaign.

In a statement, Hansen explained his involvement and admitted he made a mistake:

“I simply should have not have allowed myself to get caught up in the competitive dynamics of this situation and never should have agreed to commit any funds to the Sacramento arena opposition — under any circumstances." 

Hansen became involved in the campaign to block the arena just days after the NBA turned down his offer to buy the Sacramento Kings and move the team to Seattle.