Thumbnail image for Hansen.jpg
Chris Hansen is all in.
News of the deal broke via KING 5 late yesterday evening . After months of posturing, positioning, and chest-puffing, the


Seattle Reacts to News an Arena Deal Has Been Struck Between Hansen and City Council

Thumbnail image for Hansen.jpg
Chris Hansen is all in.
News of the deal broke via KING 5 late yesterday evening. After months of posturing, positioning, and chest-puffing, the Seattle City Council and investor Chris Hansen finally struck a tentative deal on Hansen's proposed SoDo NBA/NHL arena.

While no side in the debate had questioned whether or not Seattle wanted or would benefit from an eventual return of NBA basketball, the Port of Seattle (as you've surely heard) had raised persistent concerns about the traffic impacts of erecting a new arena in Sodo, and some Seattle City Councilmembers had been wary of a deal that could push KeyArena into total irrelevance and lacked stronger protections for taxpayers.

According to early reports of the revised arena deal (which will be announced this morning at 9:30 a.m.), those concerns have now been largely alleviated - with Hansen agreeing to go even further than his already sweet initial proposal had.

According to the Seattle Times:

The deal, sources say, addresses objections by the Port of Seattle and manufacturing interest, who complained that traffic generated by an arena would choke already clogged Sodo streets, jeopardizing maritime industries and jobs.

And ...

The agreement, expected to be announced Tuesday, significantly strengthens financial protections for taxpayers in the event of default or bankruptcy by the arena operators, and it requires a state environmental review and an assessment of alternate sites before final legal documents are signed.

It also funds improvements to KeyArena and a study on the future of the aging Seattle Center facility, which could face obsolescence if a new arena opens. And it can require that Hansen buy the arena and land for $200 million after it's paid off in 30 years, protecting the city from owning a potentially obsolete structure.

And ...

[The arena proposal at the root of the initial Memorandum of Understanding] called for up to $200 million in public financing to be repaid with taxes generated by arena activity and rent from the future teams.

Under the revised agreement, $40 million of the tax revenue would instead go into a fund to make road improvements to protect Port of Seattle container operations, railway lines and struck activity, much of which now occurs within blocks of the proposed arena site. That money would be made up by Hansen's group.

Not surprisingly, news of the deal is being greeted by elation in Seattle. Here's a look at the reaction:

Mayor Mike McGinn:

"I welcome the news that the City Council has decided to support bringing basketball back to Seattle. Executive Constantine and I negotiated a proposal with Chris Hansen, an Arena Review Panel vetted it and the County Council approved it. The City Council was the last piece of the puzzle. We haven't gotten a team yet, but Sonics fans have a reason to smile today."

KJR's Dave "Softy" Maller

Jerry Brewer from the Seattle Times:

Chris Hansen should never have to buy a beer again in his hometown.

It wouldn't just be a gesture of appreciation for the investor with a heart of Sonics green and gold. It could be a necessity. Considering the dough he's about to put down to build a new Seattle arena and lure an NBA team, he might have to reduce his going-out money.

Then again, looking at all the concessions he made to consummate a deal in Sodo, he probably is now part-owner of all the local suds, anyway.

Whatever the case, will every Sonics-missing fan raise a glass?

You can watch the full announcement of the arena deal here, or below:

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