Seattle groups lay out arena plan: it starts with finding team

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It’s a start. A good start.

Details of the NBA arena plan for Seattle were laid out by Seattle’s mayor and the money behind it, hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, in a press conference that sounded more like a pep rally. They bathed the plan in glowing terms as filled with private investment and risk free to the taxpayers.

But the truth is that it has a long way to go. It has a lot of moving parts and any number of things can kill it. That it starts with Hansen taking on the challenge of buying an NBA team.

The Associated Press explains it this way:

Hansen submitted a proposal to (Seattle) on Thursday that calls for $290 million in private investment, plus the cost of acquiring an NBA franchise, to help construct a facility that would cost between $450 million and $500 million.

According to a letter submitted by the Seattle native to the city, the remaining construction and development costs would be financed by the city and King County using taxes and revenues generated by the new facility and rent charged to the teams playing in the arena. City officials are adamant that there will be no new public taxes needed for the building.

Basically it works like this: The city will go through the process — environmental impact reports and the like — and get everything in place. Then all Hansen has to do is buy an NBA team and recruit an NHL team to play in the building. Once he does that, he will put his money in, the city will put its money in and construction will start.

The NBA is not going to expand, so Hansen would have to buy an existing team and move it. That is where Sacramento rumors come in, as there have been rumblings that a new investor (at the least) could come in there and the team almost moved to Anaheim last summer. The league has a team for sale but doesn’t want it moved out of New Orleans. Yet. And other teams do come on the market — it’s usually just not that easy to move them

But Seattle has a start on getting the Sonics back. It’s a long, long road but the first steps have been taken.