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SoDo Arena Pitched to King County NAACP

Sonics Arena Sodo rendering

An investment group led by Chris Hansen continues to make a case for its proposed Seattle SoDo arena, most recently meeting with a local NAACP chapter.

Hansen has sought for years to build an arena in the city’s SoDoo neighborhood, with the venue intended to lure Seattle its first NBA franchise since the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008. His previous proposal stalled in May 2016, when the Seattle City Council rejected his request to vacate a section of South Occidential Avenue for the arena’s construction. Hansen has since sought to revive discussions surrounding a privately financed arena in SoDo, but the idea has effectively sat in limbo as the Oak View Group moves forward with its privately financed, $900 million-plus project at KeyArena.

Despite the uncertain status of the plan, Hansen’s group is still making the rounds with community groups, meeting privately last week with the Seattle King County NAACP. The NAACP chapter’s president acknowledged that a meeting took place, but did not detail what was discussed. More from KIRO:

A secret meeting between Seattle King County NAACP and Chris Hansen’s Sonics Arena Investment group was held on May 15 in Seattle, KIRO 7’s John Knicely confirmed Wednesday. 

“The NAACP Seattle King County held a private meeting with Chris Hansen’s Sonics Arena Investment Group on May 15th, 2019. The two organizations are still developing their objectives for SoDo, there will be more to come in the following weeks,” Sadiqua Sakin, President of Seattle King County NAACP, said in a statement.

With Oak View Group’s project underway, Hansen and his group have sought to pitch the idea that the two facilities could be compatible with each other, largely by framing the SoDo arena as being more specific to the NBA while the Oak View Group’s venue hosts NHL and WNBA action. The group has contended that having a dedicated arena could make Seattle a more appealing option to the NBA, and has said it would only begin construction after a franchise has been secured. Oak View Group, however, is planning for its arena to accommodate an NBA team. It is also worth noting that the Seattle NHL expansion team’s ownership group is led David Bonderman, a minority owner of the Boston Celtics.

By meeting with the Seattle King County NAACP, Hansen’s investment group is showing that it will continue to make its case to community groups. What it will have to be done in the long run, however, is make a successful case to city officials that Seattle is ready for two major arena projects.

Rendering courtesy Sonics Arena. 

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