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Seattle Times reporters Percy Allen, Jim Brunner and Danny O'Neil are filing updates from the courthouse throughout the day.

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June 20, 2008 4:13 PM

Licata still thinks KeyArena could be profitable minus the Sonics

Posted by Percy Allen

Sonics attorney Brad Keller questions Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata.

Licata believed Mayor Greg Nickels had not kept the City Council in the loop on KeyArena renovations, urged that no action be taken until the effort could be thoroughly vetted, in effect, helping block the vote for the state funding in 2006.

Keller introduced Exhibit 522, an e-mail from Licata to state legislators. In the e-mail, he said a poll showed 80 percent of Seattle voters do not support using a tax for the Sonics. He also cited a KING 5 TV poll, in which 65 percent of those polled said they did not support using tax dollars for the Sonics. And another poll indicated only 7 percent of the respondents wanted to keep the Sonics.

Keller introduced Exhibit 520, a Feb. 8, 2006 e-mail from Licata to state legislators. In the email, he wrote: "The welfare of the Sonics should not be linked to the welfare of the Seattle Center."

Licata wrote in the February 2006 e-mail that the city hired consultants that denied the team's assertion that KeyArena would become a "white elephant." The consultants said KeyArena could turn a profit. The consultants said the city needed to invest $20 million in the building.

In the e-mail, Licata wrote: "The net revenue to the Seattle Center is only $5,000 per game whereas it is 10 times that from concerts."

Keller asked if Licata still believes KeyArena could be profitable without the Sonics.

"That is my lone point of view," Licata said.

In his testimony, Licata said it's difficult to calculate the transfer of disposable income. Transfer of disposable income is the theory that if people don't spend their money on the Sonics, then they will spend it on something else in Seattle. Licata said economists will inflate or de-emphasize statistics to support their argument.

When pushed on the topic, Licata said he believes the Sonics have a limited economic impact on Seattle.

Lawrence introduced Exhibit 525, a review for the City Council that states: "There is no empirical evidence showing that major league teams and their stadiums and arenas are effective drivers of local and regional economies."

Lawrence asked about Initiative 91, which Seattle voters approved in November 2006. The measure said any public funding of a sports facility should bring a fair return to the public investment. Licata said he had input in its creation.

Lawrence asked if the initiative was proposed because of the Sonics' efforts to get public funding. Licata said no.

Lawrence introduced Exhibit 518, a document in which Licata wrote: "Yes on 91 says there are more important things than a new stadium for wealthy out of state Sonics owners such as keeping schools open, affordable housing, health care, lower taxes, roads and transit, and real economic development."

Licata ackowledged the initiative's proposal was, in part, directed at the Sonics' public-funding effort.

At 4:02 p.m., Judge Marsha Pechman interrupted the questioning. Licata will return to the stand Thursday at 9 a.m. Court will not be in session Monday through Wednesday.

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July 2008

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