- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

SEATTLE (AP) - Seattle’s mayor and an investor have condemned sports fans’ sexist attacks against the mostly female City Council after its vote sidetracked a proposed arena project aimed at luring the NBA back to the city.

All five women on the nine-member council voted this week against selling a street to investor Chris Hansen, complicating his plan to build an arena to house a professional basketball or hockey team. The four men backed the proposal.

Many attacked the councilwomen on social media and through emails, often with profanity-laced or sexually graphic insults. Most said the female officials didn’t back the plan because women don’t like sports, with one saying they would have approved the sale if it was for a needlepoint museum.

No councilwomen offered an official statement addressing the comments, Dana Robinson Slote, a council spokeswoman, said Thursday. But Hansen and Mayor Ed Murray spoke out.

“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.”

Mayor Ed Murray, who urged the council to vacate the stretch of Occidental Avenue in Seattle’s SoDo District, said the gender-based attacks must stop.

“The disappointment some felt at the outcome of the vote is understandable, but what is not understandable is to bring gender into the conversation,” he said. “It is wrong. To spout sexist rhetoric about councilmembers is wrong.”

Hansen wants to bring the NBA back to Seattle after the SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City following the 2007-08 season and was renamed the Thunder. Hansen’s bid to acquire the street was seen as the last major step toward getting the permit needed to allow arena construction to start.

A memorandum of understanding with the city and King County requires Hansen to get an NBA team through relocation or league expansion before late 2017 for him to get $200 million in public financing for the $490 million arena project. The NBA has said it has no expansion plans right now.

Councilwoman Lorena Gonzalez voted against the proposal in part because of concerns from the Port of Seattle that it could infringe on nearby industrial activities.

“I am wholeheartedly in support of bringing NBA and NHL teams to the city of Seattle,” Gonzalez said before the vote Monday. “I hope that we can do so without further compromising the vitality of the port and our rich maritime and industrial history in this city.”

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