KING 5 News reports on an email from Port of Seattle director of seaport leasing Michael Burke, suggesting a quid pro quo in which the Port might support the Sodo arena proposal in exchange for the city agreeing to freight transit corridors through the Sodo neighborhood.
"One opening right now is basketball stadium proposal," Burke wrote to several colleagues. "What if we said we could support the idea if we got corridors...?"
You know what? I'm okay with that. It's smart politics for the port and its stakeholders to attempt to leverage the arena deal in their own interests. And besides, the city never delivered on improvements like the the Lander Street Overpass that were promised as part of previous stadium deals, so the port can't be blamed for playing a little hardball.
But more interesting to me is a different email that's been making the rounds, that repeats the notion of using the arena to wring concessions out of the city and county, but also admits that the port's job creation numbers are without substance:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: Yoshitani.T@portseattle.org Date: Thu, 24 May 2012 10:06:00 -0700 Subject: Proposed SODO Arena
POS, I feel, is really starting to have a major PR problem with the proposed arena.
The numbers being thrown around regarding job creation just don't have any substance and are being viewed as "pie in the sky".
You've had freight mobility issues for years because of a constrained layout. Losing a couple of major carriers hasn't added any weight to the job creation argument.
I feel that this is a ripe opportunity for the Port to gain substantial concessions from both the City and the County regarding dedicated transportation infrastructure.
Please see if you can get a better spin on what looks like a done deal.
I've asked Burke if "MB" is him, and he says no. I've also emailed Yoshitani to see if he would reveal the author of the email, and have yet to hear back. But regardless, this just strikes me as more evidence that the port has been overstating its case in pushing to block the arena.
Once again, if I can be convinced that a Sodo arena would cost the city good-paying port jobs, I'd oppose the MOU. But I've yet to find the port's arguments convincing.
UPDATE: Yoshitani says that he has no idea who MB is, but can confirm that it is not Burke. "If you are able to identify MB, please let me know," Yoshitani writes via email, "I am curious myself."