Seattle Courant

Seattle City Council Approves The Storm Lease Agreement Today

By Keith Vance
February 2, 2009 10:02PM

"The public benefits are the city has a long term tenant" at the Key Arena, said council member Tom Rasmussen, the bill's sponsor.

To keep the basketball team playing at the stadium the Storm agree to play between 17 and 20 home games a year for a fee of $5,000 a game. The going rate to rent Key Arena is $15,000, Rassmussen said.

And to further sweeten the pot, the city is going to kick in another $300,000 every year to Force 10 Hoops L.L.C., a locally owned company which purchased the Storm last year from the Sonics' owners. That annual payment will be adjusted for inflation.

The only objection to the bill came from Seattle resident Paul Locke. "Whoever we put in these facilities has got cover the operational expenses," said the retired Army mail clerk.

Locke said that he's worried about what's going to happen in a few years when the Storm want Key Arena upgraded, repaired or a new stadium entirely, and the voters are asked to approve yet another bond or levy.

Rasmussen addressed Locke's concerns, he said, the Storm "will pay its way."

The deal also includes a provision that if the basketball team is forced to move to another facility, the city will cover expenses.

"People have been hoping for this long term agreement," Rasmussen said.

Council member Tim Burgess said the worst case scenario is the deal is "revenue neutral." It's going to be great for lower Queen Anne, he said.

"This is win, win, win," said council member Jan Drago. The Storm, the city and the fans all come out winners, she said.

"At the end of the day it's a happy day for everyone," concluded Drago.

But from Lockes' vantage point - he's been retired since 1967 - he said he can't afford to pay more taxes.

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You can view the entire Council bill 116435 here.

The council members present today were: Tom Rasmussen, Bruce Harrell, Nick Licata, Jan Drago, Jean Godden, Tom Burgess and Sally Clark. The two members absent were Richard McIver and Richard Conlin.