A new proposal for a Seattle arena indicates that principal investor Chris Hansen and his partners are open to forgoing $200 million in public money to build in the SODO neighborhood.
In a letter to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and the Seattle City council, Hansen and partners wrote that economic considerations led them to suggest a new proposal in bring the NBA back to Seattle.
>> Scroll down to read full letter
The offer, signed by Chris Hansen, Wally Walker, and Pete and Erik Nordstrom, could be a major turning point in Hansen’s attempt to bring a professional basketball and/or hockey team to the city.
Instead of using the $200 million needed in public money to pay for the project, they are offering to pay for the arena themselves, and contribute millions to the Lander Street overpass to improve freight mobility.
The new arena offer might satisfy critics who didn't want any public financing, but opposition remains strong at the Port of Seattle.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union said the new circumstances "do not fundamentally change what our objections are to an arena in that location."
City councilmembers who voted in May against vacating part of Occidental Avenue for the arena cited concerns raised by the port about further clogging traffic and hindering good-paying jobs on the waterfront.
John Creighton, Port of Seattle Commission President, said Hansen's offer to end his Memorandum of Understanding with the city and county "gives everyone an opportunity to hit the refresh button" to look at alternative sites.
Conditions of the offer are that the city agrees to vacate a one-block stretch of Occidental Avenue and include several more tax credits.
The street vacation was a major hiccup in May, when the city council voted 5-4 to reject the vacation proposal.
Taxpayers have played major parts in subsidizing the city’s sports arenas — CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field– and helped pay for a renovation to Key Arena, which previously housed the Sonics until the team moved to Oklahoma City in 2008.
He writes that, though the league doesn’t need to be watered down any more than it already is, the league is in prime financial condition and that franchises have never been more valuable.
Mayor Murray issued the following statement after receiving a letter from the Chris Hansen-led investment group.
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