Seattle Weekly has investigated the great Geoff Baker-Tim Burgess fooferaw, and determined that Baker was right, the council did insist that KeyArena couldn’t be renovated in one report while another report said it could be:
Burgess fired back at the Times last week by releasing a memo prepared by legislative staff which purports to describe multiple significant errors in Baker’s story. That memo says that Baker “conflates the purposes” of the two studies. The EIS is supposed to predict the environmental effects of a large construction project. The other study, done through contractor AECOM, is meant to suss out the economic and financial impact of building a new SoDo arena, and look at alternatives. The two studies, the memo says, are as incomparable as apples and oranges, and Baker’s understanding of them is “muddled.”
However, “muddled” is exactly the word to describe the arguments laid out in Burgess’ memo. In several cases it seems to purposely misconstrue Baker’s reporting—which makes Baker appear not to understand the timelines of the two reports, even though his reporting displays a fine grasp of how everything went down. Meanwhile, the memo can’t seem to answer the simple question of why the EIS—which by law must analyze reasonable alternatives to the SoDo arena—did not analyze whether KeyArena could be retrofitted for a new NBA or NHL team.
Former councilmember Nick Licata, who was on the council at the time the dueling reports were issued, told the Weekly that it wasn’t a conspiracy so much as spin: “There’s a lot of ways of not holding back information but not amplifying it. I wouldn’t say [the AECOM report] was purposely held back, but I don’t think there was much attention given to it.” (I told the Weekly something similar, but Licata was there so he’d know better than me.) Luring new teams by renovating KeyArena is probably still a longshot, but then, so is getting a new NBA team via a new SoDo arena, so it’s worth investigating, anyway. Next on your editorial calendar, maybe, Seattle Weekly?