A judge in Seattle today tossed out a lawsuit aimed at blocking development of a new arena that would house the relocated Sacramento Kings.
After hearing arguments for an hour, King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North dismissed a suit brought by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The union said the proposed arena would disrupt traffic at the nearby Port of Seattle.
The union was seeking to nullify a tentative financing package for the arena approved last fall by the city and county. It argued that the government officials jumped the gun by approving an arena before an environmental impact statement had been done.
North's decision removes a potential hurdle for hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, who has struck a deal to buy controlling interest in the Kings. If the judge had voided the arena agreement - which includes $200 million in public funding - it could have seriously complicated Hansen's ability to get the Kings deal approved by the NBA.
Hansen's lawyers, along with lawyers from the city and county, said they were committed to performing a full environmental review before committing any money to the site near the port. "We're going to do an EIS (environmental impact statement) before we make a decision," Hansen's lawyer Jack McCullough said in court.
The union's lawyer, Peter Goldman, had argued that last fall's financing decision created a "snowballing effect" that effectively locks the arena into the site near the port.
The arena plan in Seattle still faces a legal challenge. A taxpayer suit says the financing violates a voter-approved city ordinance that requires the city to make a profit on any public financing of a sports venue.