Less than an hour ago, King County Superior Court judge Douglass North dismissed a lawsuit that attempted to block an arena deal designed to bring pro basketball back to Seattle.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union sued on behalf of maritime industrial interests that move freight though the south downtown flatland, where the arena is proposed, arguing that the city hadn't gauged the impacts of a stadium. They say the deal—involving the City of Seattle, King County, and investor Chris Hansen—would skirt environmental law by predisposing the arena to be built in the Sodo neighborhood. State regulations established in the 1970s require that a project can only be legally cemented after its impacts are examined (for example, on freight mobility) and compared to alternatives (such as building it in a different neighborhood).
But Judge North found that the parties entering a memorandum of understanding for the arena—a preliminary step, not a final agreement—didn't yet require environmental review.
Naturally, Mayor Mike McGinn, who is behind the deal, was elated at the news. “This is a big win in our work to bring the Sonics home to Seattle," he said in a statement to reporters, adding that the city and county councils must still ratify any final plan and that an environmental review must be completed.
Likewise, Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess, an arena supporter who made some tweaks to the arena legislation, noted that the city will "continue forward in our environmental review process" in his own statement. Burgess is challenging McGinn for mayor this year and has been trying to garner as much credit for the deal as possible.