SBD/September 11, 2012/Facilities

Seattle City Council, Chris Hansen Reach Tentative Agreement To Build $490M Arena

Deal will see Hansen (r) contribute $290M in private money to build the arena
The Seattle City Council "has a tentative agreement with investor Chris Hansen" to build a proposed $490M basketball and hockey arena in the city's Sodo neighborhood, according to Lynn Thompson of the SEATTLE TIMES. Sources said that the deal "addresses objections by the Port of Seattle and manufacturing interests, who complained that traffic generated by an arena would choke already clogged Sodo streets, jeopardizing maritime industries and jobs." The agreement "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." In addition, it can "require that Hansen buy the arena and land for $200 million after it's paid off in 30 years." This agreement revises a deal that previously "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 new agreement, $40M "of the tax revenue would instead go into a fund to make road improvements to protect Port of Seattle container operations, railway lines and truck activity." That money would "be made up by Hansen's group." Hansen will contribute $290M "in private money to build the arena." He also "must secure" an NBA franchise "before the city or county issue construction bonds." The city contribution "might rise from $120 million to $145 million to finance the transportation fund and KeyArena improvements, but it all still would be repaid by Hansen." The county "would contribute" $80M if an NHL team is secured (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/11).

HAPPY DAYS: Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn called the council's support the "last piece of the puzzle," and said while there is more to be done, "Sonics fans have a reason to smile today" (SEATTLEPI.com, 9/10). In Seattle, Jerry Brewer writes, "The hardest part of this comeback quest is all but over now." This is "one of the most favorable and innovative arena deals reached during this modern wave of sports palaces." It give Seattle "an opportunity to get the NBA back on its own terms." Barring a "major snafu, the fun is about to begin." Hansen is "about to begin shopping for an NBA team." It could "go as quickly as buying the imploding Sacramento Kings, or it could be a prolonged journey that takes four or five years." But as long as the "arena deal stays together, it's safe to be giddy on occasion" (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/11).
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