SEATTLE – Tuesday night was another step in the long road to a decision on arenas in Seattle and the quest to bring back the Sonics. Sports fans weighed in on those efforts before the Seattle City Council’s Select Committee on Civic Arenas.
What’s currently on the table is the Oak View Group plan that would include a $600 million renovation of KeyArena into a multi-purpose venue that could potentially be the home of the NHL and the NBA, but competition to that plan never went away.
The Sodo group headed by investor Chris Hansen wants the City Council to hear their revised plan, which includes a fully privately funded arena and an alternative plan on KeyArena that’s also privately funded.
“I’m passionate. I’m a homer. I’m from Seattle. I love Seattle sports and I think it’s a civic responsibility for us,” said Hansen.
That’s why Hansen says he’s not giving up hope on his new revised plan to privately fund a new NBA arena in Sodo.
“When there’s a team for sale, people in Seattle should be pretty close to 100% certain that we will be involved,” Hansen said.
But Tuesday night the focus wasn’t on Hansen or his plan.
“I have not seen the new revised plan. So right now the focus is on the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) and KeyArena and the redevelopment of the 74 acres of Seattle Center,” said City Council member Debora Juarez.
The youngest of fans came out to support the renovation of KeyArena and bringing an NHL team back to Seattle.
But others echoed the same concerns many Seattlites have about any city development – more traffic problems.
“I think we’ve procedurally done everything correct. I think we’ve filed, we have a completed EIS (environmental impact statement) and our application has been sitting with SDOT (Seattle Department of Transportation). So I don’t think they would dispute that, that at some point they have to give us a hearing on the subject,” said Hansen.
But that didn’t happen Tuesday night, with Juarez unwilling to discuss even if Sodo will be considered.
“I don’t know if we can characterize it as still an option or viable because right now the focus is only on the Seattle Center and only on the MOU,” said Juarez.
What stands in Hansen’s way is the Seattle Department of Transportation, which has yet to formally pass Hansen’s new street vacation request to council. Hansen says he’s open to partnerships and any other options as long as the Sonics come back to Seattle.
The City Council is scheduled for another formal meeting on the OVG plan next month. That’s when City Council members will pin down their questions and concerns before a possible vote in December.