New Investor Emerges In Push For Seattle Arena, Publicly Commits To Spend $100M
AHL Chicago Wolves Owner Don Levin "has publicly emerged to try to bring an NHL team to the Seattle area, and he's prepared to spend $100 million on an arena," according to Master Tesfatsion of the SEATTLE TIMES. Levin said that he has "talked to Bellevue officials about building an arena suitable to bring an NHL franchise to the region." The development comes three days "before the Metropolitan King County Council plans to discuss and possibly vote on investor Chris Hansen's proposal to build a $490 million NBA and NHL arena in Seattle's Sodo District." It appears to "complicate an already contentious arena debate by raising the possibility of a pro-sports facility outside Seattle." Levin said Thursday, "It's probably the best market in the United States that does not have a hockey team demographically. ... Easy to get in and get out. I think the city has a good base of restaurants and hotels." Levin added that an NHL team in Seattle "would attract hockey fans from Canada." He said, "I imagine there'd be thousands of Canadians that would come to every game because they can't get into the building in Vancouver because it's sold out and it's such a good team." Levin, Hansen and two Bellevue city officials "denied media reports that hockey legend Wayne Gretzky met with Bellevue officials about NHL possibilities when he was out here this week." Levin said that his $100M investment in an arena "would still be on the table if he teamed up with another investor." He said, "I would look for a person to bring a basketball team to the building and work with them anyway I could to get that done" (SEATTLE TIMES, 7/27). The BELLEVUE REPORTER cited a source as saying that talks between the city and suitors for an NHL arena "have been ongoing, but the source did not want to go into any particular individuals." The source said that "no proposals have been turned in" and added that, were an arena plan to "materialize, no Bellevue dollars, not even in the form of bond financing, would be included." Anything else "is a non starter." Bellevue has been "active in arena discussions with a variety of potential owners in recent years." The source said that the city "would not necessarily back off an arena plan if Hansen's arena houses only an NBA team" (BELLEVUE REPORTER, 7/27).
IN HIS OWN WORDS: Hansen yesterday on ESPN Radio 710 Seattle said, "We've said all along that if an arena isn't built in Seattle, it probably will be built somewhere else. I mean, that's just a fact. Whether it's Bellevue or Renton or somewhere else that we haven't thought of, it's highly likely an arena's going to be built in the next three or four years." He added, "It’s important that the region has a new facility sometime within the reasonable near-term. I think that that is inevitable. And if it’s not in Sodo it will be somewhere else, and people should try to realize the ramifications at the local level as well as the county and state level" (SEATTLEPI.com, 7/26).