BY Art Thiel 06:47AM 04/27/2012

Hansen: Putting traffic fix all on arena ‘unfair’

Proposed arena developer Chris Hansen says adding a big road-improvement bill to his tab would make the project in SoDo “not viable.”

The last big SoDo construction project, Safeco Field, was completed in 1999. A proposed new arena would go up two blocks south./ City of Seattle photo, 1998

Transcript of a conversation with Chris Hansen, Seattle native and hedge fund manager from San Francisco who wants to build a $490 million arena in Seattle’s SoDo district that would house relocated NBA and NHL teams. First of two parts.

Regarding the controversy over traffic and parking raised by SoDo businesses including the Mariners, does it feel as if you walked into a family fight about commitments unkept by the city?

I knew a little bit, but probably not enough. I went at the site selection in a non-political way. It’s a great site with two stadiums already here. And any event at the arena would bring half the crowd of the other venues. If (other sports teams) can get people in and out, it should be relatively easy for us.

Traffic will be a problem with any site. The port has valid concerns. But most of the problems existed before we got here. If you use the analogy of a car’s carbon footprint, if we we can make the arena’s carbon footprint negative, we’re doing a good thing. The thing we underestimated was people using our project as a tool to get their needs addressed before we ever brought up the project.

So the arena represents leverage for some constituencies?

I’m sure at some level that’s probably the thinking. But it would be unfair of me to comment.

Is it is clear to you yet who will be responsible for road/traffic improvements such as a possible Lander Street overpass, from which funds were diverted years ago, and now would cost as much as $180 million by some estimates?

I’ll say it like this: I’m going to make a financial commitment to an arena. It’s pretty much set how much I’ll put in. Some could be redirected to other areas. If someone tries to put me on the hook for an infrastructure project of this magnitude that should be undertaken by the city, it would make this project not viable. If you tack that onto the cost of an arena, it would be unrealistic.

We’re funding a traffic study, which is really on behalf of other constituencies. The city’s involvement is to assure independence, and it is running the show more than we are. The discussion probably needs to happen on what the optimal solution is.

There’s only one direction for downtown to grow. South Lake Union is pretty well filled up. When downtown expands into Sodo, with or without an arena, there’s going to be conflict with the port, railroads and others. That discussion has to take place. Our role is that when we bring night events here, we will make things better, not worse.

When we look at light rail, the tunnel and all the transport options for SoDo, we say when our arena comes, how can we alleviate the stresses for our specific events? That’s fair to turn the discussion to that. To saddle our group with the promises made earlier is not fair.

With Mercer Street a civic priority, it doesn’t seem as though the city has the road improvement budget to take on a huge project in SoDo.

I know. I acknowledge that. It’s not that’s it’s not my problem. Of course it’s my problem. If we succeed, we’re going to be neighbors here. But making it ONLY our problem is what’s unfair. The Mariners are here, the Seahawks are here, the port, Starbucks headquarters, Burlington Northern . . . others are coming to the area. There’s a whole bunch of constituencies that can help fix the problem.

Is it reasonable to expect that the traffic study you have commissioned is going to produce anything new that we didn’t know 10 years ago about needing the Lander Street overpass?

Sure. The problem needs a fresh look. It needs to be done. If I were in charge of the port or city, I would ask whether the Lander Street overpass is truly the best option. I don’t know.

I would caution that this traffic study is being done quickly and at a high level. In the EIS (environmental impact statement), there will be a very detailed study. On a scale of 1 to 10 with the EIS being 10, this traffic study is a three or four. It’s to analyze the issues so the city and county councils can use the data to see if the memorandum of understanding (the document that spells out the arena plan and its funding) is a good idea or not.

People would have a hard time objecting to the arena if they could see it didn’t make the problem worse. A big part of things is parking. The arena completion is at least three years out, close to the time that light rail and the tunnel (replacing the Alaskan Way viaduct) will be ready. It’s important to look at solutions that work for four or five years after that, rather than spend money on temporary problems before the transportation “lift” comes.

Since the tunnel will be tolled, are you concerned that drivers will repeat the avoidance habit developing with the new tolls on the 520 bridge, which in SoDo’s case would mean more cars using SoDo’s surface streets to get through downtown?

I don’t have a great answer. My background isn’t in transportation analysis. You know, at some level, it’s interesting that some people’s self interests have forced this issue to become the entirety of our conversation instead of all the other things.

Your nearest potential neighbor, the Mariners, came across as adversarial in their complaints about parking and traffic.

I would be the first to say that the Mariners got a bad rap. It’s my job as a neighbor to extend an olive branch to work on things together. I’m a Mariners fans. They have justified concerns. I can’t speak to their past intentions. I’m not privy to their previous behaviors that some might consider against the best interests of Seattle sports fans. My personal view is that the arena project adding parking, helping create an entertainment district, and possibly working with them on their media side would be a great thing for them.

Once they’re given an opportunity to see the pluses we’re bringing, we hope they see us as a neighbor who is a net benefit to them, as well as being responsible to the same fans. We have the same fans, there’s a lot of overlap. Both our customers are the Seattle sports fan.

Please review again your reasons for choosing this site.

No. 1 is zoning, No. 2 is minimal environmental (displacement) impact. The loss to maritime and industry workspace gets a little overstated. Very few of the businesses (on the purchased property) are maritime and industrial. So the impact on the community is less. No. 3 is transportation, which was a critical asset for us here: The connection to I-90, the ferries, heavy and light rail terminals. I think (King County Executive) Dow Constantine said it well when he said you couldn’t get a spot anywhere in the region more connected to more public transportation than this site. I don’t know why it hasn’t been more discussed.

If you took the same issues pitched against the site about traffic against the other sites mentioned, they wouldn’t fare as well. This is an urban site that’s connected by numerous methods of mass transit that’s within walking distance of where a large number of people work. If it’s advantageous to fans, it’s advantageous to us.

The best comparison is the lift the Giants got from leaving Candlestick Park for San Francisco. They got a lift from attendance and ticket prices. Fans thought Candlestick was an awful experience and AT&T Park is an incredible experience.

A San Francisco TV station recently did a look back to the issues about the new park before the Giants committed to moving. It was exactly the same as ours now in Seattle: Parking, traffic, it’s going to be a disaster. The point is they figured it out. One of the solutions was how they directed street cars and buses to get people in and out. There’s so much parking downtown (after business hours) and you don’t have to move people very far. People adapt to taking a street car for five minutes to avoid the traffic around the arena.

It’s a complex opportunity to adapt and expand the infrastructure in place to move a large portion of the fan base. That’s a long-term solution. There’s an easier, perhaps temporary solution, which is exiting people to downtown, where there is a huge inventory of (after business hours) parking. This is what happened in San Francisco. People aren’t taking the street car from their house, they drive downtown, park inexpensively, and take the transit to the arena.

It was a long process encouraged by the Giants themselves to change behavior. Now it’s clockwork.

Beyond the arena itself, how important to the arena project is the creation of an entertainment district in SoDo?

I think it’s important. Whatever we do won’t be on the scale or design of LA Live! But it will fit with our community. Having a better vibe around the arena would be great for fans. People would enjoying coming to more games if there were more to do pre- and post-game within walking distance of the arena.

The fan experience at Fenway Park or Wrigley Field is more than just the park itself. Few fans would argue that Fenway/Wrigley experience is worse than driving 20 minutes to a suburban location surrounded by a parking lot, where you get in your car and leave after the game.

Will you participate financially in the district’s creation?

The economics haven’t been determined yet. But we will take steps to make it happen because it’s at our front door. We’d like to make sure that, at a minimum, we’re creating the right circumstances for this to happen. We own some acreage around the arena footprint that will be used for parking and some for a practice facility.

Is there a district in an NBA or NHL market that might be a model for Seattle?

The Kansas City Light and Power District around Sprint Center is something more fitting. They don’t have an NBA or an NHL team but the building is a financial success. Our vision is something more like an extension of Pioneer Square, as opposed to big glass, modern-looking buildings. That’s my personal opinion. Other developers may have a different perspective.

The Mariners built on a site more removed from Pioneer Square restaurants and bars partly because fans would be inclined to spend more on in-stadium concessions. You have a different view of that?

I can’t speak to what the Mariners did. That’s for someone else. From my perspective, the better I make the experience for the fan outside the arena, the more likely they are to come to events. Win or lose, they can view it as a fun form of entertainment. That means parking and traffic too.

People love to go out and have a beer before a game, whether at a Seahawks tailgate, or in the arena or at a bar. And afterward. The fan without kids thinks about walking around the area, grabbing  beer and going to the game, coming out and meeting up with friends who may have sat elsewhere, and have another beer.

Few metropolitan cities have so close together a large downtown, an active port and two stadiums and possibly an 18,000-seat arena. Isn’t that packing a lot of activity into a relatively small area?

Keep in mind that the entertainment district is small, and won’t impact the port. If anything the entertainment district alleviates the traffic pressure because it causes fans to come earlier and stay later.

Part Two Monday: Lost in the congestion debate is Hansen’s complicated offer to the city that he thinks is “a little under-appreciated.” He also says he would have preferred to be a minority NBA owner, but stepped forward when no one else did.  If he pulls off a relocation, he has some high standards for the Seattle business people who will join him in ownership.


YourThoughts

  • Arthurofrhodes

    Hansen says the Sprint Center in Kansas City is a success.  That’s not what a recent story in the Wall Street Journal found.  “Urban Center Is Budget Hole — Kansas City, Mo. Must Set Aside Millions As Complex Falls Short Or Projections,” WSJ, 4/23/12.  The public funding?  Bonds.  Sound familiar?

    • rambisfan
    • Jblack

      What Hansen cited was the Power & Light development in Kansas City, and that development is a complete disaster for the city. The developer convinced the city to issue $295 million in bonds for the project, but the tax revenue never came in. The development generates less than one-third of what was expected to pay back the bonds, and so the city will have drastic budget cuts for years as a result.

      Hansen is proposing the same deal for the Sodo arena: the city and county issue $200 million in bonds and are expected to get paid back by revenue from the new arena. It’s very troubling indeed that Hansen would not only propose the same deal that failed in Kansas City, but that he would cite that failure as a success.

      See this Wall Street Journal article a couple days ago for more details on the financial failure of the Power & Light development:

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304331204577356471425094502.html  

      • Playhouse

        Hansen’s proposal accounts for this in the key way that KC didn’t: none of this goes forward without securing a team. KC built their arena in the hopes of luring a team with no immediate prospects. Hansen would like the commitment from the city but won’t build – and therefore, not put in any of his money or have the city/county issue the bonds – until he’s nabbed a team.  That, right there, makes this one of the best proposals for such a project for any city in the history of sports.

        Hansen’s actually done one better, in that he’s already purchased the land the arena would be built on AND his spent his own money to perform this traffic study to allay people’s fears. If anything, he’s proven he’s legit in his concern and care for the city as much as his own involvement.

      • Markb2482

        Hansen actually cited both KC’s Power and Light District and the Sprint Center. He did so to convey the scale of the potential entertainment district that he envisions. It’s important to remember that Power and Light and Sprint Center are separate financial entities. When Hansen says that “the building” is a financial success, it is not clear what he is actually referring to – The Sprint Center, which is a financial success, or Power and Light District, which is actually a group of buildings that have not been profitable. I assumed that Hansen was calling the Sprint Center a financial success, but that is open to debate.

        Furthermore, calling Hansen’s proposal for an arena the “same deal” as Power and Light entertainment district’s financing is misleading and wrong. The amount of bonds issued would be considerably less than Power and Light and will be split between the city and county’s bonding capacity. Also, the tax revenue sources associated with Power and Light and the tax revenue sources associated with the proposed arena are not identical. For example, you do not get charged a $5 per seat surcharge when you go to a restaurant in Power and Light, however, the new arena is almost certain to include such ticket surcharges which would be used for bond repayment.

        Another material difference between Power and Light and Hansen’s proposed arena is that Hansen and his investment group would be on the hook to cover any revenue shortfalls. So, if the collected tax revenue is not enough to cover the bond payment, the remaining funds would come from a reserve fund of Hansen’s money, not the city/county’s budget. This is not fool proof in the event that Hansen and all of his investors go bankrupt, but it is an added level of protection that is not present in Power and Light’s financing or most other public/private partnerships.

        While Kansas City’s Power and Light district is an interesting cautionary tale, it is far from a perfect parallel to the proposed Seattle arena. Hansen’s offer needs to be judged, and in my opinion celebrated, on its own merits.

        Learn more about Hansen’s proposal at http://www.seattle.gov/arena/      

        • Jblack2224

          The Sprint Center and Power & Light development are both financial failures, at least as far as taxpayers are concerned. The $295 million that Kansas City paid in bonds went to both projects, and again, neither project is coming even close to paying back what the city put into it. That’s an undisputed fact. Just read the WSJ article to see the numbers. They’re both financial disasters for the city, and it’s laughable that Chris Hansen would cite either project as a model.

          In terms of revenue sources, what Hansen is proposing is very similar to what went down in Kansas City. So it’s absolutely an parallel, especially when Hansen himself is citing KC as a model.

          It’s true that there’s been some talk about Hansen’s group covering financial shortfall, but it’s far from set in stone. Hansen talking about it is one thing – putting it in writing is another. I think we’ve all learned not to trust everything that a potential sports team owner says. No agreement with the city and county has been written or completed. And the report from the Arena Review Panel makes it very clear that while there will be safeguards in place, the city and county General Funds could be at risk.

          • Markb2482

            I read the WSJ article long before you referenced it. The $295 million in bonds from the WSJ article was for Power and Light District and was to be repaid with future sales and property taxes. Kansas City issued $221 million in bonds to build the sprint center which is repaid through a hotel/rental car tax. The Sprint Center was completed on schedule, under budget, and returns a small annual operational income to the city each year. Any shortfalls in tax revenue have been minor and repaid through the city’s share of Sprint Center operating revenue and the surplus construction budget. Kansas City has not had to raid the general fund to make bond payments and the city has a premiere concert venue to enjoy with intangible benefits that cannot be quantified. People will have differing views on government subsidy, but calling the Sprint Center a financial disaster is hyperbole at best.

            Hansen cited KC’s Power and Light district to illustrate his vision for the scale and design of the entertainment district. On a spectrum from LA live (which is huge) to having no entertainment district, his vision is for something on the scale of Kansas City’s Power and Light.  His purpose was not to extol the virtues of his proposal. He was asked a question about the model for what an entertainment district would look like and he answered it. Hansen’s proposal is to fund an arena; not the surrounding entertainment district. You can envision parallels as much as you want, but comparing the operations and projected tax revenues from an arena and dining/shopping/nightclub district is like comparing apples and oranges.

            To say that “there’s been some talk” about Hansen covering revenue shortfalls in his proposal significantly understates his efforts. You make it sound like it was an idea that was floated in passing in a hallway and may or may not be a part of the final agreement. The protections are not set in stone because the parties are still working on the agreement. However, Hansen has worked with the city and county leaders from the beginning to design protections for the taxpayers. These protections are clearly outlined in the proposal he submitted to the city and county on February 15th. http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/media/PDF/120216PR-ProposalPrinciples.pdf Furthermore, Hanson has continued to engage with city, county, and community leaders to ensure that the interests and concerns of stakeholders receive attention. These protections are nearly certain to be a part of any memorandum of understanding because the city and county leaders will walk away from the table if they are not included.

            As for the risk to the general fund; that is the nature of bonding. There is an inherent risk to the general fund when the city issues bonds and intends to honor them. However, the protections that have been proposed, and which will almost certainly be a part of any final agreement between Hansen and the City, mitigate the risk for taxpayers in a way that has seldom been seen in a public/private partnership. This should be celebrated and not understated. The Arena Review Panel did raise concerns related to protecting taxpayers and the general fund, however, they found that while “there are many important elements to be worked through to ensure these principles are met and to address other issues of importance to the community.  The proposal warrants the serious consideration of the City and County policy makers.” Hansen is diligently working to address their issues and his efforts should not be dismissed before a MOU is even available for public review.

  • Arthurofrhodes

    Hansen says the Sprint Center in Kansas City is a success.  That’s not what a recent story in the Wall Street Journal found.  “Urban Center Is Budget Hole — Kansas City, Mo. Must Set Aside Millions As Complex Falls Short Or Projections,” WSJ, 4/23/12.  The public funding?  Bonds.  Sound familiar?

    • rambisfan
    • Jblack

      What Hansen cited was the Power & Light development in Kansas City, and that development is a complete disaster for the city. The developer convinced the city to issue $295 million in bonds for the project, but the tax revenue never came in. The development generates less than one-third of what was expected to pay back the bonds, and so the city will have drastic budget cuts for years as a result.

      Hansen is proposing the same deal for the Sodo arena: the city and county issue $200 million in bonds and are expected to get paid back by revenue from the new arena. It’s very troubling indeed that Hansen would not only propose the same deal that failed in Kansas City, but that he would cite that failure as a success.

      See this Wall Street Journal article a couple days ago for more details on the financial failure of the Power & Light development:

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304331204577356471425094502.html  

      • Playhouse

        Hansen’s proposal accounts for this in the key way that KC didn’t: none of this goes forward without securing a team. KC built their arena in the hopes of luring a team with no immediate prospects. Hansen would like the commitment from the city but won’t build – and therefore, not put in any of his money or have the city/county issue the bonds – until he’s nabbed a team.  That, right there, makes this one of the best proposals for such a project for any city in the history of sports.

        Hansen’s actually done one better, in that he’s already purchased the land the arena would be built on AND his spent his own money to perform this traffic study to allay people’s fears. If anything, he’s proven he’s legit in his concern and care for the city as much as his own involvement.

      • Markb2482

        Hansen actually cited both KC’s Power and Light District and the Sprint Center. He did so to convey the scale of the potential entertainment district that he envisions. It’s important to remember that Power and Light and Sprint Center are separate financial entities. When Hansen says that “the building” is a financial success, it is not clear what he is actually referring to – The Sprint Center, which is a financial success, or Power and Light District, which is actually a group of buildings that have not been profitable. I assumed that Hansen was calling the Sprint Center a financial success, but that is open to debate.

        Furthermore, calling Hansen’s proposal for an arena the “same deal” as Power and Light entertainment district’s financing is misleading and wrong. The amount of bonds issued would be considerably less than Power and Light and will be split between the city and county’s bonding capacity. Also, the tax revenue sources associated with Power and Light and the tax revenue sources associated with the proposed arena are not identical. For example, you do not get charged a $5 per seat surcharge when you go to a restaurant in Power and Light, however, the new arena is almost certain to include such ticket surcharges which would be used for bond repayment.

        Another material difference between Power and Light and Hansen’s proposed arena is that Hansen and his investment group would be on the hook to cover any revenue shortfalls. So, if the collected tax revenue is not enough to cover the bond payment, the remaining funds would come from a reserve fund of Hansen’s money, not the city/county’s budget. This is not fool proof in the event that Hansen and all of his investors go bankrupt, but it is an added level of protection that is not present in Power and Light’s financing or most other public/private partnerships.

        While Kansas City’s Power and Light district is an interesting cautionary tale, it is far from a perfect parallel to the proposed Seattle arena. Hansen’s offer needs to be judged, and in my opinion celebrated, on its own merits.

        Learn more about Hansen’s proposal at http://www.seattle.gov/arena/      

        • Jblack2224

          The Sprint Center and Power & Light development are both financial failures, at least as far as taxpayers are concerned. The $295 million that Kansas City paid in bonds went to both projects, and again, neither project is coming even close to paying back what the city put into it. That’s an undisputed fact. Just read the WSJ article to see the numbers. They’re both financial disasters for the city, and it’s laughable that Chris Hansen would cite either project as a model.

          In terms of revenue sources, what Hansen is proposing is very similar to what went down in Kansas City. So it’s absolutely an parallel, especially when Hansen himself is citing KC as a model.

          It’s true that there’s been some talk about Hansen’s group covering financial shortfall, but it’s far from set in stone. Hansen talking about it is one thing – putting it in writing is another. I think we’ve all learned not to trust everything that a potential sports team owner says. No agreement with the city and county has been written or completed. And the report from the Arena Review Panel makes it very clear that while there will be safeguards in place, the city and county General Funds could be at risk.

          • Markb2482

            I read the WSJ article long before you referenced it. The $295 million in bonds from the WSJ article was for Power and Light District and was to be repaid with future sales and property taxes. Kansas City issued $221 million in bonds to build the sprint center which is repaid through a hotel/rental car tax. The Sprint Center was completed on schedule, under budget, and returns a small annual operational income to the city each year. Any shortfalls in tax revenue have been minor and repaid through the city’s share of Sprint Center operating revenue and the surplus construction budget. Kansas City has not had to raid the general fund to make bond payments and the city has a premiere concert venue to enjoy with intangible benefits that cannot be quantified. People will have differing views on government subsidy, but calling the Sprint Center a financial disaster is hyperbole at best.

            Hansen cited KC’s Power and Light district to illustrate his vision for the scale and design of the entertainment district. On a spectrum from LA live (which is huge) to having no entertainment district, his vision is for something on the scale of Kansas City’s Power and Light.  His purpose was not to extol the virtues of his proposal. He was asked a question about the model for what an entertainment district would look like and he answered it. Hansen’s proposal is to fund an arena; not the surrounding entertainment district. You can envision parallels as much as you want, but comparing the operations and projected tax revenues from an arena and dining/shopping/nightclub district is like comparing apples and oranges.

            To say that “there’s been some talk” about Hansen covering revenue shortfalls in his proposal significantly understates his efforts. You make it sound like it was an idea that was floated in passing in a hallway and may or may not be a part of the final agreement. The protections are not set in stone because the parties are still working on the agreement. However, Hansen has worked with the city and county leaders from the beginning to design protections for the taxpayers. These protections are clearly outlined in the proposal he submitted to the city and county on February 15th. http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/media/PDF/120216PR-ProposalPrinciples.pdf Furthermore, Hanson has continued to engage with city, county, and community leaders to ensure that the interests and concerns of stakeholders receive attention. These protections are nearly certain to be a part of any memorandum of understanding because the city and county leaders will walk away from the table if they are not included.

            As for the risk to the general fund; that is the nature of bonding. There is an inherent risk to the general fund when the city issues bonds and intends to honor them. However, the protections that have been proposed, and which will almost certainly be a part of any final agreement between Hansen and the City, mitigate the risk for taxpayers in a way that has seldom been seen in a public/private partnership. This should be celebrated and not understated. The Arena Review Panel did raise concerns related to protecting taxpayers and the general fund, however, they found that while “there are many important elements to be worked through to ensure these principles are met and to address other issues of importance to the community.  The proposal warrants the serious consideration of the City and County policy makers.” Hansen is diligently working to address their issues and his efforts should not be dismissed before a MOU is even available for public review.

  • Arthurofrhodes

    Should be “…Short Of Projections”

  • Arthurofrhodes

    Should be “…Short Of Projections”

  • http://www.facebook.com/erik.berge Erik Berge

    Would be incredibly unfair to throw on top of the arena project the additional cost of the needed overpass, that is something the city promised and something the city should work with all local sodo businesses on getting done, the sports teams, the port, bnf and local businesses, effects them all. Unfair to take advantage of the newcomer to town.

  • http://www.facebook.com/erik.berge Erik Berge

    Would be incredibly unfair to throw on top of the arena project the additional cost of the needed overpass, that is something the city promised and something the city should work with all local sodo businesses on getting done, the sports teams, the port, bnf and local businesses, effects them all. Unfair to take advantage of the newcomer to town.

  • Sbreitbach10

    The difference between Seattle and Kansas City is that this won’t happen until a team is secured… Why are we so set on rejecting this awesome gift to our city! The longer this drags out, the less likely it is that it will happen because we find reasons for it not happen.

  • Sbreitbach10

    The difference between Seattle and Kansas City is that this won’t happen until a team is secured… Why are we so set on rejecting this awesome gift to our city! The longer this drags out, the less likely it is that it will happen because we find reasons for it not happen.

  • Grover

    Here is the crux of the problem with a new arena in our area, as admitted by Hansen.  Hansen’s quote: 

    “We have the same fans, there’s a lot of overlap. Both our customers are the Seattle sports fan.”

    Therefore, the same fans will be expected to spend money on two more teams — NBA and NHL.  There is no way in which a new arena generates higher incomes for these fans (unless you count a few hundred ushers and concessions workers at the new arena, making very low wages in part-time jobs).

    So, the real problem is not traffic — it is that this area can not support two more major pro sports franchises as well as the existing four major franchises:  Mariners, Seahawks, Husky Football, and Sounders.

    I hope in part 2 of this interveiew Thiel asks Hansen about Hansen’s research into selling luxury suites, club seats, season tickets, int-stadium advertising, etc., in competition with the existing teams and venues in our area.

    • Brett

      You have absolutely no way of knowing that. We know that this town would support professional basketball. What we don’t know is if it can support hockey. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go for it. Denver is a smaller market than Seattle, and they are able to support five professional franchises just fine.

  • Grover

    Here is the crux of the problem with a new arena in our area, as admitted by Hansen.  Hansen’s quote: 

    “We have the same fans, there’s a lot of overlap. Both our customers are the Seattle sports fan.”

    Therefore, the same fans will be expected to spend money on two more teams — NBA and NHL.  There is no way in which a new arena generates higher incomes for these fans (unless you count a few hundred ushers and concessions workers at the new arena, making very low wages in part-time jobs).

    So, the real problem is not traffic — it is that this area can not support two more major pro sports franchises as well as the existing four major franchises:  Mariners, Seahawks, Husky Football, and Sounders.

    I hope in part 2 of this interveiew Thiel asks Hansen about Hansen’s research into selling luxury suites, club seats, season tickets, int-stadium advertising, etc., in competition with the existing teams and venues in our area.

    • Brett

      You have absolutely no way of knowing that. We know that this town would support professional basketball. What we don’t know is if it can support hockey. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go for it. Denver is a smaller market than Seattle, and they are able to support five professional franchises just fine.

  • Grover

    The way any new arena deal should be done for NBA and NHL teams is for Hansen’s group to pay the entire cost of the new arena, including the land, and own the land and arena himself, like the Magic Johnson ownership of the Dodgers in L.A., in which they bought the team, stadium and parking lots for about $2 billion.  Any new arena should be completely paid for, owned and operated by the wealthy ownership group, like Magic’s ownership group of the Dodgers.

    Then, the tax revenues from the new arena — property tax, business tax, admission tax, sales tax, et. al. could be used to pay for street improvements around the arena.

    And, now that Safeco Field is paid off, the admission tax, sales tax, business tax, etc. collected at Safeco Field should also be used to pay for street improvements around that stadium.  Where is all that tax revenue from Safeco Field going, now that the construction bonds on Safeco Field are paid off?

  • Grover

    The way any new arena deal should be done for NBA and NHL teams is for Hansen’s group to pay the entire cost of the new arena, including the land, and own the land and arena himself, like the Magic Johnson ownership of the Dodgers in L.A., in which they bought the team, stadium and parking lots for about $2 billion.  Any new arena should be completely paid for, owned and operated by the wealthy ownership group, like Magic’s ownership group of the Dodgers.

    Then, the tax revenues from the new arena — property tax, business tax, admission tax, sales tax, et. al. could be used to pay for street improvements around the arena.

    And, now that Safeco Field is paid off, the admission tax, sales tax, business tax, etc. collected at Safeco Field should also be used to pay for street improvements around that stadium.  Where is all that tax revenue from Safeco Field going, now that the construction bonds on Safeco Field are paid off?