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SEATTLE -- The citizen panel appointed to review plans for a new sports arena in Seattle said Wednesday the proposal is favorable and has promise, but said many important issues to be worked through.

The Arena Review Panel, appointed in February by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine, said the $500 million plan to build a basketball and hockey arena in SODO, warrants serious attention by the region's policymakers.

And while the panel acknowledged the concerns raised by the Seattle Mariners and the port about traffic congestion in SODO, co-chair Jan Drago noted that the proposed location -- just south of where Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field lie -- is already zoned for a stadium.

Chris Hansen, a San Francisco hedge fund manager, is leading a group of private investors that has promised to put up nearly $300 million for a new arena. The plan would have the city and county issue $200 million in bonds, which would be repaid through rent on the facility and taxes on tickets and concessions.

Hansen and local elected officials maintain the arrangement would not involve any support from area taxpayers.

The Arena Review Panel said Wednesday that the next big hurdle for the project is drafting a Memo of Understanding between Hansen and the city and council laying out all the plan's details.

KING 5 News's Chris Daniels reporting.

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