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Seattle City Council Votes Down Avenue to New Arena

The Seattle City Council recently rejected giving up part of a street in the city’s industrial district that would have allowed a developer to build a new arena there.

The arena would have been key to the city’s hopes of landing an expansion NBA team or attracting a team to relocate. The Seattle SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder after the 2007-08 season. A new arena also would help attract an NHL team.

In the 5-4 vote on Monday, the five votes against giving up SoDo’s Occidental Avenue South to billionaire Chris Hansen to develop a new arena came from all five women on the nine-member council, sparking a barrage of misogynist comments directed to the women via email and social media. Hansen and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray have decried the sexist comments.

“While we may not agree with the council’s vote, misogynistic insults, vile comments and threats are unacceptable and need to stop,” Hansen said in a statement Wednesday. “We should all show respect for our elected officials and the legislative process, even if we disagree with their decision.”

Murray, a supporter of a new arena, said, “Seattle is better than this.”

The Seattle City Council has not publicly commented on the social media attacks.

Had the city council voted in favor of Hansen’s bid to acquire the street, it would have been the last hurdle in getting the permit needed to allow arena construction to begin, The Associated Press reported.

A memorandum of understanding with the city and King County, Wash., requires that in order for Hansen to get $200 million in public financing for the $490 million arena project, Hansen needs to land an NBA team through relocation or league expansion before late 2017, according to reports. The NBA has said it currently has no expansion plans.

Other options to bringing back the NBA should include renovating the Sonics’ former home, KeyArena, according to Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. Bagshaw led opposition to giving up the street to Hansen by lobbying her female colleagues to sway their votes, The Seattle Times reported.

Both Hansen and Murray say they will continue efforts to land an NBA or NHL team.

“Today’s city council vote was disappointing but we don’t believe it is the end of the road in our quest to bring the NBA and NHL back to Seattle,” Hansen said in a statement posted earlier this week.

A new arena has the support of one prominent Seattle citizen: Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

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