Commentary: Tarleton’s anti-SODO/pro-KeyArena tactics are maddening, reprehensible

We start tonight with House Bill 1114 – it’s just a bill and it’ll probably stay that way – originally co-sponsored by state representative Gael Tarleton, who’s been a major critic of plans to build an arena in SODO.

Not surprisingly, she also happens to be a former commissioner at the Port of Seattle. Shocking.

The proposed bill would exempt performing arts facilities or arenas from leasehold excise taxes “if the facility or arena has a seating capacity of more than two thousand and is located on property that is owned by a city and: (1) Was formerly the site of a World's Fair; or (2) Has been in continuous operation since 1983.”

An arena that is owned by a city and was formerly the site of a World’s Fair? Man… I can’t think of… oh, wait! KeyArena! This bill would exempt KeyArena – or potential developers of KeyArena – from paying leasehold excise taxes.

Called on this notion, she tweeted : “No, I didn’t introduce bill for KeyArena. Bill introduced in January to give 2 Seattle and 1 Tacoma public facilities same tax status.”

Okay, she didn’t introduce it. She co-sponsored it. And, she’s right, it would give other facilities, like KeyArena and the Tacoma Dome the same tax breaks as Safeco Field.

Now I’m not saying this tax break isn’t warranted, but let’s look a little closer: What date was this bill read for the first time? January 11, 2017.

January 11th. Well, that’s a coincidence! That’s the SAME day Mayor Ed Murray officially released a request for proposal on the redevelopment of KeyArena! Amazing (should we say convenient) timing!

Now, the bill never made it out of committee, and while it’s technically still active – reintroduced when the Special Session began on April 24th – it likely won’t go anywhere, unless there’s some groundswell of support among leadership. Still, I question the bill’s initial intent, and until it’s officially dead, it’s still there, and could really benefit the developers of a KeyArena plan down the line.

Tarleton went on to tweet: "KeyArena is a sports an entertainment venue already, has been for years. It’s owned by the public… hosts free health clinic. City decides future.”

"City decides future." Well I’m glad she’s all of a sudden deferring to the city, considering she was one of 40 state representatives who signed an anti-SODO Arena letter to the city council last year, asking them to reject the street vacation of Occidental. So let’s meddle in city business back then, but let the city decide now? You can’t have it both ways.

Now, I would`ve stepped back from all of this tonight, had I not seen Tarleton`s seemingly incorrect, misleading, and frankly, maddening tweets about the Seattle Storm in the last couple days.

“They (the Storm) want Key Arena renovated. There is no deal for them in SoDo. That's for NHL, NBA. No place else for Storm.”

“No room for Storm at SoDo. Already documented. Key Arena and Seattle Ctr owned by City of Seattle. I support public ownership. #GoStorm”

Now, unless someone has told her that off-the-record, nothing she tweeted in relation to the Storm has been proven true. The Storm haven`t made any public statements regarding KeyArena nor a preference to have the Key renovated. There is also zero documentation that shows that there`s no room for the Storm at a SODO Arena. In fact, the original MOU made room for the Storm in SODO, and that hasn't changed. Plus, a KeyArena renovation would actually displace the Storm for multiple seasons, while a SODO Arena would allow for a smooth transition to a brand new home.

Frankly, Gael, using the Storm - or any local team for that matter - as a pawn to spread your anti-SODO rhetoric and misinformation is not only unfair, but it’s reprehensible, coming from an elected representative.

And all of this, put together, is just one more example of SODO not getting a fair shake in a hotly contested arena debate that is already skewed in favor of a city asset like KeyArena.