By Tyler Nguyen
It’s easy to fantasize about putting yet another major landmark in Seattle. Take for example the proposed arena, where Seattleites could watch their returning team, the beloved SuperSonics, along with the city’s first professional NHL team. But this is easier said than done.
Thinking about all the complications that this new arena could cause — traffic jams, backing up the ports in the SODO area, and leaving behind an empty building we knew as the Key Arena — it begins to not sound like such a great idea, after all.
Still, San Francisco hedge fund manager and former Seattle resident Chris Hansen is convinced that the Sonics need to come back. He went back to his roots and explained why he believes Seattle needs to bring the Sonics back.
Back in 2008, Chris Hansen played a small part in an investor group headed by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to try and keep the SuperSonics from leaving Seattle. As you can see, their efforts were not good enough, as the Sonics left for Oklahoma.
In 2010, Hansen started to look for ideal places to put a new arena. He started with the Key Arena, but soon decided that it would not be viable. It was too small of a building to host a hockey arena and if they were to rebuild the building, it would cut into streets and also turn a very popular location, the Seattle Science Center, into a huge construction site for years to come. After considering that, Hansen considered other sites by the Bellevue area until coming to a decision that the SODO area would be the perfect place to build an arena.
Before jumping into the new project, Hansen asked city council members for some financial help. They were not pleased by the request. His reasoning was that not only would it make this assignment financially successful, the arena would also give back to the city and county. After persuading the city and county, they agreed to give out a loan of $200 million dollars. The city would give $120 million and the county would give $80 million, if Hansen can get an NBA and NHL team to Seattle.
If they are only able to get an NBA team, the city would loan $120 million and the county would only give $5 million and the $75 million is left for Hansen to pay for the new building. Hansen estimated that after the arena is finished, it would be worth about $375 million dollars. So the city would be receiving a $375 million dollar arena that they only paid $200 million for and the city would be paid back the $200 million, plus interest from the tax on the stadium, the venue, and the event tickets.
All in all, this project, which some perceive as a very monstrous idea for the city, may turn out to be a win-win situation. (end)
Editor’s note: This story was written by a Summer Youth Leadership Program student, not a Northwest Asian Weekly staff member.