Investor still pushing for arena competition in Seattle
ABS-CBN Sports on Oct 11, 2017 07:20 AM
The KeyArena in Seattle. Photo c/o @KeyArenaSeattle
By Tim Booth, Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — An investor is continuing to push his plans for a new sports area in Seattle’s stadium district even as the city moves forward with efforts to renovate KeyArena across town.
Chris Hansen said Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) that his group doesn’t have issues with the investment in the aging city-owned KeyArena, formerly the home of the NBA’s SuperSonics. But he doesn’t want to see his plans ignored after years of trying to get final approval for his project, which is ultimately aimed at getting an NBA team back in Seattle.
“How is it a bad thing, [despite] what you want to do at KeyArena, to also approve ours?” Hansen said. “At a minimum, having competition will ensure better economics for both the city and a prospective NBA owner when it comes time to purchase a team.”
Hansen’s group did a full media blitz ahead of a public hearing on the city’s arena situation Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). The city of Seattle and Oak View Group have reached agreement on a proposed memorandum of understanding for a privately financed remodel of KeyArena costing around $600 million. A final vote on the MOU is expected in early December.
The focus of OVG has been on acquiring an NHL franchise and turning KeyArena into a premier NHL and concert facility with the potential of hosting an NBA team in the future.
Hansen’s plans remain focused specifically on the NBA. He thinks Seattle can be a successful market with two arenas, but believes OVG wants just one option in the market.
“I think it’s interesting that we’re clearly fine with competition and their side is not. Their side is doing thing to attempt to restrict us,” Hansen said.
Hansen’s proposal has run into a roadblock because he can’t get a needed street closure approved by the City Council. The plan was denied final approval in May 2016, when it still called for public investment. Hansen’s group changed its plan and went with an all-private proposal but has not gained any traction with the city government.
Hansen believes that’s in part due to issues with former Seattle mayor Ed Murray, who resigned last month and was replaced by Tim Burgess through the November election. Hansen said it was clear his group did not have an ally in the mayor’s office with Murray but would not speculate whether Burgess — who has supported Hansen’s plans in the past — would push the needed street closure prior to the election. Burgess is not a candidate.