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Denied KeyArena Proposal Scaled Down, Renovation Unlikely

SEATTLE (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Following the denial of a proposed $260 million tax subsidy for Seattle’s KeyArena, the Seattle Supersonics and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels are paring their ambitious request to the Legislature.

The team and city will now propose a plan totally “less than $100 million,” according to a statement Sonics Vice President Terry McLaughlin gave to the Seattle Times on Friday. Some of the revenue will be directed to King County arts groups, the rest will be used to pay off $60 million in construction debt left over from a 1995 expansion. The plan would, however, drop the request for a massive makeover of the arena.

“We basically are reframing this thing so that more than likely, the renovation portion is not going to be part of this bill,” said McLaughlin.

The original plans for the renovation included expanding the arena from 368,000 square feet to 730,000 square feet, adding a 5,000- to 7,000-capacity theater, 500 seats, converting 26 of 58 luxury suites to loge boxes, and adding terrace tables and party suites.

The owners have been asking lawmakers to extend several taxes now used to pay off the debt from Qwest and Safeco fields. These taxes include restaurants and bars, car rentals and general sales in the county. Instead of expiring when the football and baseball stadiums are paid off, the taxes should be dedicated to KeyArena, the team suggests.

A revenue-sharing arrangement between the team and the city has been losing money for both sides for several years. The city expects to lose $2.5 million on the arena this year, while the Sonics expect at least $15 million.

It is not yet clear whether the new, smaller request will be met with any enthusiasm. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers