Story Summary

New sports arena planned for Seattle’s Sodo District

On Oct. 16, 2012, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine  signed an agreement to use up to $200 million in public funds to build a proposed $490 million NBA/NHL arena, with chief investor Chris Hansen putting in the rest.

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hansen5SEATTLE — Investor Christopher Hansen said Wednesday night that he is patient and will continue with his plan to build a new NBA facility in Seattle even if it takes years.

Hansen, who lives in the San Francisco area, appeared before Seattle’s arena advisory panel and spoke to reporters afterward.

His comments also came after the Sacramento City Council approved an arena plan to keep the Sacramento Kings in that city. The Kings were seen as a likely NBA team to move to Seattle if Sacramento didn’t build a new facility.

Hansen addressed many concerns about the financial structure of his proposed Seattle arena deal, which calls for a $200 million contribution by the city, which will be repaid through admissions and parking taxes.

Hansen reaffirmed his commitment to building the arena in Seattle’s Sodo area over all other locations. And he confirmed that they’re not asking the city for money until they secure a team.

He also said that he and his investor group are not in it for financial gain, only to build a solid plan where the city is not left holding the bag.  He said that’s why there are provisions in the plan that hold the future ownership groups accountable for added costs and construction overruns.

sacSACRAMENTO – This letter was sent from Think BIG Sacramento to Christopher Hansen, the hedge fund manager who has negotiated with the City of Seattle about bringing a basketball and hockey arena to SoDo. While we’ve obtained the letter, we have not obtained any of the attachments referred to within.

Mr. Hansen,

On behalf of the 99% of us who make up the wonderful mosaic that is the great City of Sacramento, we have one message for the top 1/10th of the 1% who is engaged in actions detrimental to our community:


If you have ever been to Sacramento, you would know that this is a big city with small town values and a big heart, which will fight for the more than 4000 construction jobs, seven billion dollars in economic development and $150+ million in annual economic activity that will be created as a result of the building of a new downtown-based Entertainment and Sports complex.

In this age of historic economic challenges, regardless of where one lives, we should all be working together to create jobs. Our country has always been at its best when people have come together to work for the common good. And that is precisely what we have done in Sacramento under the leadership of Mayor Kevin Johnson and the Sacramento City Council.

Today, the entire community, Business and Labor, Republicans and Democrats, the Mayor and the City Council, is working for the greater good of Sacramento.

We are especially troubled that you would be actively pursuing an initiative that you know will short-change our community of badly needed jobs given that your native city of Seattle knows the economic pain and suffering that comes when one city raids another city. One would think that Seattle of all places would be sensitive to engaging in such predatory behavior.

Given what is at stake for Sacramento and your highly publicized effort to steal our team, we challenge you to come to Sacramento and participate in a debate at high noon on February 23rd at the Oak Park Community Center where you can defend the indefensible and explain the inexplicable: your effort to steal our jobs.

Participating in this debate on behalf of Sacramento will be a construction worker representing the thousands of workers from the Building Trades who have been out of work with unemployment for construction workers in excess of 20%, a current employee at Power Balance Pavilion who will lose their job should the Kings depart, and a representative of our youth community who love their Kings and wants them to stay in Sacramento.

To help prepare you for this debate, we are attaching to this challenge a report prepared by Think BIG entitled Truth or Consequences, which lays bare what is at stake, including documenting the impact on Seattle caused by the SuperSonics relocation.

We hope this report will help you prepare to defend why you want to inflict the kind of economic harm on working people that took place in Seattle.

Keeping the Kings in Sacramento as the cornerstone for the economic revival of the City is really a question of whose side are you on:

Are you on the side of jobs for Sacramento; the future of Sacramento; and the people of Sacramento or are you trying to kill our jobs; working against our future; and anti-Sacramento?

We look forward to seeing you in Sacramento.


Jeremiah Jackson Think BIG


Seattle city leaders briefed on proposal to build NBA arena

sodo1SEATTLE — Talk is growing in Seattle of a possible return of an NBA team to the city.

Seattle city leaders were recently briefed on a proposal to build a new arena that likely would enable a return of an NBA team to the city and perhaps an NHL team, too.  But not everyone appeared to be on board Friday.

“I definitely have some concerns,” Seattle City Councilwoman Jeanne Godden said of the idea.

The arena deal, proposed by wealthy Seattle native and current San Francisco resident Christopher Hansen, would be privately financed.

But Godden said she’s worried about traffic flow in the proposed location, in the Sodo (south of downtown) area – the same general location as CenturyLink Field, where the NFL’s Seahawks play, and Safeco Field, home of the MLB’s Mariners.

“Traffic is one of the concerns,” Godden said. “Parking is one of them. What would happen if you had three major league teams (playing) in one night? It would be pretty horrendous.”

Godden said the city’s credit rating also could be hurt if bonds have to be issued for construction.

The Port of Seattle, which oversees cargo ship unloading in the same area, also has concerns about how a new arena would impact the movement of freight and about the loss of industrial land.

Councilman Bruce Harrell said, “All those are issues that can be addressed, so I don’t see those as deal-stoppers.”

Dave “Softy” Mahler of KJR Sports Radio said he believes the proposal is a no-brainer for the city.

“To me, it`s a huge deal,” Mahler said, “and it`s exactly what this city has been waiting for because, let’s face it, we live in a town, we live in an atmosphere right now, where no one wants to spend any money from the public” on professional sports arenas.

“Getting in this guy’s (Hansen’s) way is going to be a disaster, a deal like this is never going to come around again for this city,” Mahler said.

The Seattle Sonics played in the city from 1967 until the end of the 2008 season, when they relocated to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder, partly because the owner could not find public funding to construct a new arena.

Harrell said a public/private partnership may be the city’s best shot at building a new arena and getting a new Sonics team back.

Ultimately, any deal will need the approval of the City Council.

And it may also hinge on what happens in Sacramento, Calif., where there is a March 1 deadline to come up with plans for a new arena for the Sacramento Kings. If that does not materialize, speculation is that the Kings could move north and become the new Sonics.  The New Orleans Hornets have been suggested as another possibility for moving to Seattle.