SEATTLE – Chris Hansen sees the groundswell of support that seems to be developing in the community behind his push for a new arena that could bring the NBA back to Seattle.
The leading investor in the project hopes those supporters don’t become disillusioned if it ends up taking five to seven years for pro basketball to return if Hansen’s current arena proposal is approved by local lawmakers.
“We keep saying it, and I think people are listening and hearing us say it, but they’re probably hopeful it happens before then,” Hansen said in an interview with the AP on Tuesday. “I think they’re so excited about the prospect of us getting the deal through that they haven’t thought about the patience required on the other end.
“I’m sure there could be some disillusionment if this takes a long time. That’s one of the things that worries me.”
Hansen’s arena proposal, which calls for nearly $300 million in private investment for the $500 million facility, is being vetted by the Seattle City Council and King County Council. The public investment is capped at $200 million and would come from taxes and revenues generated through the new facility. They would be paid through 30-year bonds and any franchise that relocates to Seattle would be required to sign a non-relocation agreement that would span the life of those bonds.
Hansen spoke before the county council later Tuesday and will speak before the City Council today.
One question Hansen will not be able to answer is when a team might be coming back to the Puget Sound area if the proposal is approved. Hansen said he expects NBA franchises to become available for relocation in the next five years and that the key is for his group to be a viable option when a franchise begins looking for a new home. That means having an approved arena plan and all preliminary work done or in the process of completion so a shovel can go in the ground on the new facility when a team is acquired.
Hansen declined to talk about specific franchises or details about discussions with the NBA.