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Seattle arena plan to be unveiled today

Seattle SonicsA financial plan for a new Seattle arena — a core component in hopes of bringing the NBA back to the Emerald City — could be unveiled today by Mayor Mike McGinn.

Hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen has been working with the city on a financial plan for a new arena in the Safeco Field area. Now headquartered in San Francisco, Hansen grew up in Seattle as a huge Sonics fans.

He’s already acquired land for a new arena next to the Safeco Field parking garage and has been discussing a public-private deal that would yield a new $400-million arena, according to the Seattle Times. That area, located south of downtown, is already zoned for sporting facilities and has the necessary infrastructure in terms of freeway access and parking.

While the public sentiment is for the NBA to return, there’s also talk of the NHL being interested in the market as well. Conveniently, both leagues have teams that could be available for sale or transfer by next month. Sacramento is in the stretch run to finalize a financing plan for a new Kings arena — a financing plan that seems to be more of a wing and a prayer than anything solid — and the NHL seems prepared to move the Phoenix Coyotes with the likely development that Glendale will stop subsidizing the team to the tune of $25 million annually. There is some legacy of hockey in the city: the Seattle Metropolitans were the first American team to win the Stanley Cup, in 1917. (Technically, however, the Mets were not an NHL team; they played in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association.)

There have been several attempts to bring the NBA back to Seattle. The small size of Key Arena helped drive the Sonics from the market in the first place, but attempts at new-arena funding in the region have all fallen well short. While there may not be a lot of public appetite to totally fund a new arena, Hansen’s potential success in bringing back the NBA and any well-crafted financial proposal that would rely heavily on ticket and parking taxes could sway public opinion.


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