BY Art Thiel 04:13PM 09/11/2012

Thiel: An epiphany in the history of Seattle sports

City council’s willingness to stand firm, and Chris Hansen’s willingness to move, helped create a milestone day in progress toward an arena deal that might be a national template.

Seattle City Council chair Sally Clark, with council members Tim Burgess (behind Clark) and Mike O'Brien (right), explain the amended arena agreement Tuesday at City Hall. / Art Thiel, Sportspress Northwest

To all the supporters of his basketball/hockey arena project, Chris Hansen Tuesday offered what is believed to be a first in the history of American pro sports would-be ownership (digital era):

An invitation to readers of his arena website: “Beers on me.”

And in a more formal response emailed to media outlets, Hansen wrote what may be a first in the oft-lamented history of constipated municipal government in Seattle: “The process worked.”

To offer a summary even more tidy for opponents whose legitimate points contributed to the outcome, we offer, in the spirit of splendid compromise, a single new word: Congratu-shutup.

Tuesday’s benchmark does not mean the arena is guaranteed to be built. Doesn’t mean the arena will be in SoDo. Doesn’t mean we won’t hear “Ahem . . .” “Um . . .” and “Wait a minute . . .”

Things happen in land-use projects. The first shovelful may discover the remains of the first Native American strip club, which contains the first known buffalo-tail tassels.

That’s not the point for Tuesday. This was the day is for celebrating something close to unique in Seattle’s civic history, as well as a template for public-private sports-building partnerships nationally in the new normal of post-recession government inertia:

A little sumthin’-sumthin’ that works for almost everybody.

The amended deal that Hansen struck with the city council budget committee Tuesday, months in the making and still to voted on by the full council, is a testament to what can happen when no one is out to screw anyone.

Even Pete von Reichbauer, one of three King County Council members to vote no on the county’s version and the project’s most strident critic, said if the proposals are adopted, “they will address many of the concerns I raised in opposing the initial proposal  . . . The proposed amendments put the public back into the process. Just as you cannot build an arena on a weak physical foundation, government officials should not commit public tax dollars without a strong public process.”

The memorandum of understanding introduced months ago by Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine is now a significantly smarter, more comprehensive and secure document, which benefits a public that includes the Port of Seattle and non-sports SoDo users, who now at least have $40 million from the arena project to start to sort the traffic congestion.

It is enough? No one knows. But it sets the table to fund an overdue discussion about how to avoid diminishing a community asset that had problems long before Hansen showed up. That discussion will also include a commitment to define and preserve maritime and industrial uses of SoDo, a concession that may help curb the gentrification that many who work there feared would accompany the new arena.

Is it enough? Not sure. The port and the metal-bender shops have been through promises and commitments before with the city; skepticism is warranted. But the port has has bigger management problems than an arena location, and its CEO, commissioners and unions have to realize they have leveraged the arena location dispute to the maximum reasonable civic attention and funding.

Is it enough for the Mariners? Notice I wrote above “almost everybody.” The Mariners get little out of this deal. The baseball club’s agenda all along, serviced by the Seattle Times editorial board, has been to halt the threat of more competition for the sports dollar, with a barely plausible cover story of traffic congestion. Ownership is left now with one option: FIELD A QUALITY TEAM!  Even Hansen can’t fix that.

So what has Hansen done? He took one for two teams: the community in which he grew up, and community that he joined — phenomenally wealthy guys with cash to burn.

After committing $290 million of private money that was dedicated to creating just a building, he gave in on the point about using some revenues to help fix a problem he didn’t create: Existing traffic. Belatedly — and this is on McGinn, who should have told him what was in store — Hansen became aware that taxpayers in general and the city council in particular had too much scar tissue from past sports-building fiascoes to allow Hansen’s original, break-even MOU proposition, to stand.

They had to have something to show the city will do better than break-even.

So he agreed to divert arena revenues that would have gone to construction-debt retirement: $40 million for an infrastructure fund and $7 million to essentially help preserve KeyArena for the short- and mid-term. The $47 million will be under exclusive city control. So I-91 fans of a return on pro-sports investment, please stand down from the discussion.

Then Hansen offered a third concession, which is a big part of why this deal may become a landmark.

If worse comes to worst, he put his own hindquarters on the line. To quote from the council’s summary document on the MOU changes:

“The principal owner of ArenaCo will provide a personal guaranty that protects the city from shortfalls in the revenues needed to pay debt service and ensures that all outstanding debt will be repaid should the Arena not prove to be financially successful.”

That means Hansen has no corporate entity to hide behind in the event of bankruptcy. No hitting up Steve Ballmer or the Nordstroms for a bailout. No Howard Schultz-style, whiny-ass whimpering when the team under his stewardship loses money by failing to make the playoffs while paying high salaries.

As Seahawks coach Pete Carroll likes to say, Chris Hansen is all in. Which just might make him Public Enemy No. 1 among the members of the club he wishes to join — pro sports owners. Fellas: Deal with it. It’s the new now.

It’s not that some other pro sports owners failed to have skin in their games. It’s that very few of them agreed to be the safety net BEFORE a building is built and BEFORE a team has been purchased.

The risk for Hansen is relatively small: A lot of bad things will have to happen with the arena before the city turns to him to pay the mortgage (a debt that can’t begin under after he secures a team). But the symbolism of having a rich guy agree 100 percent to protect the municipality in the event of default before he even owns the woebegone Sacramento Kings (just sayin’) is extraordinarily rare.

The man is out there. Then again, as a hedge fund manager, he’s used to risk. Remember, this is a guy who owns 1.8 percent of Facebook, which right now as an investment is  second only to the Gynecologists for Todd Akin U.S. Senate campaign.

Amid the whoops and backslapping that accompanied the moment, council president Sally Clark said something simple and trenchant that helps explain what Hansen did during negotiations.

“I really applaud him,” she said, “for listening to our concerns.”

In an age marked by shouting and fear-mongering from a massive digital array of  24/7 media platforms,  Hansen threw down with an increasingly forgotten analog tactic: Listening.

He learned that too many constituencies would stand in his SoDo way if he kept to the deal McGinn and Constantine proposed.

The council listened too. Members learned he will borrow much of the money for the arena construction — a common practice for developers of any stripe –  and if he gave away too much of his revenues, no banks would deal with him. (Remember, Hansen still needs to spend about $350 million, mostly cash, to buy an NBA  team).

Together with Hansen’s advisers, the council, primarily Tim Burgess and Mike O’Brien, their staffs and outside consultants, added layer after layer, week after week, of changes to the MOU that made it acceptable to all. They will probably complain privately that this sort of deal should have been done by the mayor’s office a while ago, but as Burgess adroitly put it Tuesday, “It’s like an alley-oop; he threw the pass and we dunked it.”

As the presser broke up, O’Brien’s smile nearly demanded sunscreen for nearby observers.

“This is a little self-serving today, I know,” he said, “but I think this was a great example of local government at its best.”

Sure it’s self-serving, and we all know time will tell. But it’s a feat that many thought was highly unlikely. Now it’s a milestone, like pencil-marks on door jambs for kids going vertical.

Hansen wants to mark this growth by inviting the part of the local world that cares to come down Thursday from 5-7 p.m. to venerable F.X. McRory’s bar in Pioneer Square, where many a Seattle sports triumph or defeat has received an alcohol bath.

Hansen says he has the first round. The second should be on sports fans, with a toast to Hansen, his aides, the Seattle and King County politicians and staffers who have labored so strenuously to get to a local yes in a time of national no:

“To Lenny, Bill, Freddy, Jack, Wally, Gus, D.J., J.J,, Lonnie, X, Tom, Dale, Nate, George, Sam, Hersey, Detlef, Shawn, Gary, Ray and many other green-and-golds known by a first name:  Sonics homecourt advantage is coming.”


YourThoughts

  • Sportsspecialties

    But Chris Hansen CAN fix the Mariners’ problems — buy them from the club’s current ownership, who quite obviously have been priming the team for a sale for the last 2-3 years — and make sure to get rid of Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln! 

    • Artthiel

       I think Hansen is doing enough. Next you’ll be asking him to fix the Mercer mess. Oh, wait . . .

  • Sportsspecialties

    But Chris Hansen CAN fix the Mariners’ problems — buy them from the club’s current ownership, who quite obviously have been priming the team for a sale for the last 2-3 years — and make sure to get rid of Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln! 

    • Artthiel

       I think Hansen is doing enough. Next you’ll be asking him to fix the Mercer mess. Oh, wait . . .

  • Michael Kaiser

    The article says, “The baseball club’s agenda all along, serviced by the Seattle Times editorial board, has been to halt the threat of more competition for the sports dollar, with a barely plausible cover story of traffic congestion.”
    That may or not be correct, or perhaps is somewhat of an oversimplification, but I have a couple of questions regardless: While I do not rank the Seattle Times as one of the heavyweights of journalism in any sense, (although neither do I the new Seattle Police Blotter (former PI), why would the Seattle Times be running interference for the Mariners?  Or is its main point the traffic issue?  And are you seriously arguing that traffic in this area has not become a monstrosity, only to become, if it is even possible, more of a monstrosity, especially in that area, with the advent of the tunnel, which, as an aside, came into being simply because people got tired of discussing the options and said, “Whatever,” something they will come to rue for, literally, perhaps centuries?

    • Jamo57

      I have heard rumors from a few sources that for the Times this has more to do with affecting the next mayorial race.   I’ve heard that the ownership of the Times does not like McGinn and did not want to see him have the success and gain the political capital that a successful arena deal would give the mayor.    It is curious in that throughout history the Times has supported editorially every serious stadium and arena proposal (both ones that came to fruition and those that died on the vine) until this one.  

      • czeskleba

        I think you are correct about this.  It’s notable that in their article today about the deal, the Times says “The City Council’s renegotiation of the deal represents a rebuke of McGinn.”  So even if the arena gets built, they’re already trying to reframe it as a failure on McGinn’s part, suggesting the City Council had to save his ass to get the deal done.  It’s too bad the wrong newspaper went out of business here.  

        • Jamo57

          ” It’s too bad the wrong newspaper went out of business here.”

          Well said.   Well said.

          • Tian Biao

            I think we all miss the P-I, and I still can’t stand the Times; I inherited that from my folks. but hey, here’s to Chris Hansen: well done. he really showed some staying power. I won’t be at FX on thursday, but I’d like to say: ‘thanks for stepping up. thanks for putting up with the City Council, and thanks especially for not letting ego get in the way, which is what seems to happen so often with these moguls. just . . . thanks.’

          • Artthiel

             Don’t forget to thank the council. If you bashed them in 08, deservedly, for letting the Sonics go, credit them for being dogged and creative now.

        • RadioGuy

          I used to deliver the P-I when I was a kid, but didn’t shed a tear over its demise beyond the loss of jobs involved.  It was an even more partisan paper than The Times, which sucks when all you want as a reader is what used to be called “balanced journalism.”  Pretty sad when the most responsible news source in Seattle is Crosscut, which isn’t saying much. 

          • Artthiel

             Any big metro market, by definition,is underserved by only one major editorial voice.

          • RadioGuy

            I totally agree.

        • Artthiel

          “Rebuke” was a poor choice of words. McGinn blundered in some aspects of the arena, but the council, but law and by political desire, was going to put its own stamp on the deal

          • Michael Kaiser

            How nuanced.  Impressive.  

          • Gary

            Wally………….Really!……………Wally?

    • Artthiel

       All metro newspapers have affection for baseball because they share a key characteristic: Dailyness.  An MLB season  drives circ and traffic. Any threat to baseball success is a threat to the Times.

  • Michael Kaiser

    The article says, “The baseball club’s agenda all along, serviced by the Seattle Times editorial board, has been to halt the threat of more competition for the sports dollar, with a barely plausible cover story of traffic congestion.”
    That may or not be correct, or perhaps is somewhat of an oversimplification, but I have a couple of questions regardless: While I do not rank the Seattle Times as one of the heavyweights of journalism in any sense, (although neither do I the new Seattle Police Blotter (former PI), why would the Seattle Times be running interference for the Mariners?  Or is its main point the traffic issue?  And are you seriously arguing that traffic in this area has not become a monstrosity, only to become, if it is even possible, more of a monstrosity, especially in that area, with the advent of the tunnel, which, as an aside, came into being simply because people got tired of discussing the options and said, “Whatever,” something they will come to rue for, literally, perhaps centuries?

    • Jamo57

      I have heard rumors from a few sources that for the Times this has more to do with affecting the next mayorial race.   I’ve heard that the ownership of the Times does not like McGinn and did not want to see him have the success and gain the political capital that a successful arena deal would give the mayor.    It is curious in that throughout history the Times has editorially supported every serious stadium and arena proposal (both ones that came to fruition and those that died on the vine) until this one.

      • czeskleba

        I think you are correct about this.  It’s notable that in their article today about the deal, the Times says “The City Council’s renegotiation of the deal represents a rebuke of McGinn.”  So even if the arena gets built, they’re already trying to reframe it as a failure on McGinn’s part, suggesting the City Council had to save his ass to get the deal done.  It’s too bad the wrong newspaper went out of business here.  

        • Jamo57

          ” It’s too bad the wrong newspaper went out of business here.”

          Well said.   Well said.

          • Tian Biao

            I think we all miss the P-I, and I still can’t stand the Times; I inherited that from my folks. but hey, here’s to Chris Hansen: well done. he really showed some staying power. I won’t be at FX on thursday, but I’d like to say: ‘thanks for stepping up. thanks for putting up with the City Council, and thanks especially for not letting ego get in the way, which is what seems to happen so often with these moguls. just . . . thanks.’

          • Artthiel

             Don’t forget to thank the council. If you bashed them in 08, deservedly, for letting the Sonics go, credit them for being dogged and creative now.

        • RadioGuy

          I used to deliver the P-I when I was a kid, but didn’t shed a tear over its demise beyond the loss of jobs involved.  It was an even more partisan paper than The Times, which sucks when all you want as a reader is what used to be called “balanced journalism.”  Pretty sad when the most responsible news source in Seattle is Crosscut, which isn’t saying much. 

          • Artthiel

             Any big metro market, by definition,is underserved by only one major editorial voice.

          • RadioGuy

            I totally agree.

        • Artthiel

          “Rebuke” was a poor choice of words. McGinn blundered in some aspects of the arena, but the council, but law and by political desire, was going to put its own stamp on the deal

          • Michael Kaiser

            How nuanced.  Impressive.  

          • Gary

            Wally………….Really!……………Wally?

    • Artthiel

       All metro newspapers have affection for baseball because they share a key characteristic: Dailyness.  An MLB season  drives circ and traffic. Any threat to baseball success is a threat to the Times.

  • Jamo57

    Thank you for the instant summary and analysis, Art.   You’re probably our best source for putting this into historical context given the research and access you had in writing ‘Out of Left Field’ as well as having lived and reported on our checkered history of conflict between our local governments and sports owners and league commissioners.  

    And you put into words one thing I’ve been wondering:

    “As Seahawks coach Pete Carroll likes to say, Chris Hansen is all in. Which just might make him Public Enemy No. 1 among the members of the club he wishes to join — pro sports owners. Fellas: Deal with it. It’s the new now.”

    I have been wondering if he will be let into the club given this deal provides a precedent that other municipalities will try to cite in their dealings with sports franchises.  But it seems to me that so much wealth has been transferred from the public sector to the private sector over the past 30+ years that I think you are correct in saying ‘Deal with it’.  

    I tend to think this may be another sign to the ‘tired’ Ms ownership (a description I believe has been used in this column before) that it may be time for them to step aside and allow new leadership to take over.   Given the fact the arena deal identifies the useful life of sports venues as being around 30 years, Safeco is already almost halfway there.   

    And as you point out, the rules now are much different than they were in the early and mid 90s when the current ownership group had to play such political hardball to get things done.   When the Safe needs a major renovation, they will be expected to put much more of their own $$$ into the pot.    I’m not sure they will be able to deal with that. 

    • Artthiel

       Thanks for the kind words, Jamo. I do think Hansen had concerns about setting precedent. But in five years of diminishing govt revs, it may be standard procedure. In any event, he wanted to do this deal in his hometown that meant he was willing to take the risk. I think it’s more symbolic than real, but only people of great wealth can do these kinds of things.

  • Jamo57

    Thank you for the instant summary and analysis, Art.   You’re probably our best source for putting this into historical context given the research and access you had in writing ‘Out of Left Field’ as well as having lived and reported on our checkered history of conflict between our local governments and sports owners and league commissioners.  

    And you put into words one thing I’ve been wondering:

    “As Seahawks coach Pete Carroll likes to say, Chris Hansen is all in. Which just might make him Public Enemy No. 1 among the members of the club he wishes to join — pro sports owners. Fellas: Deal with it. It’s the new now.”

    I have been wondering if he will be let into the club given this deal provides a precedent that other municipalities will try to cite in their dealings with sports franchises.  But it seems to me that so much wealth has been transferred from the public sector to the private sector over the past 30+ years that I think you are correct in saying ‘Deal with it’.  

    I tend to think this may be another sign to the ‘tired’ Ms ownership (a description I believe has been used in this column before) that it may be time for them to step aside and allow new leadership to take over.   Given the fact the arena deal identifies the useful life of sports venues as being around 30 years, Safeco is already almost halfway there.   

    And as you point out, the rules now are much different than they were in the early and mid 90s when the current ownership group had to play such political hardball to get things done.   When the Safe needs a major renovation, they will be expected to put much more of their own $$$ into the pot.   And whether or not this arena does get built as proposed where proposed, the precedent has been set.

    I’m not sure they will be able to deal with that.

    • Artthiel

       Thanks for the kind words, Jamo. I do think Hansen had concerns about setting precedent. But in five years of diminishing govt revs, it may be standard procedure. In any event, he wanted to do this deal in his hometown that meant he was willing to take the risk. I think it’s more symbolic than real, but only people of great wealth can do these kinds of things.

  • Jamo57

    I have heard rumors from a few sources that for the Times this has more to do with affecting the next mayorial race.   I’ve heard that the ownership of the Times does not like McGinn and did not want to see him have the success and gain the political capital that a successful arena deal would give the mayor.    It is curious in that throughout history the Times has supported editorially every serious stadium and arena proposal (both ones that came to fruition and those that died on the vine) until this one. 

  • Michael Kaiser

    I do like, “No Howard Schultz-style, whiny-ass whimpering when the team under his stewardship loses money by failing to make the playoffs while paying high salaries.”
    By the way, though; the folks in Sacramento seem to think the Kings are not going anywhere. 

    • Artthiel

       Seattle didn’t think the Sonics were going anywhere.

  • Michael Kaiser

    I do like, “No Howard Schultz-style, whiny-ass whimpering when the team under his stewardship loses money by failing to make the playoffs while paying high salaries.”
    By the way, though; the folks in Sacramento seem to think the Kings are not going anywhere. 

    • Artthiel

       Seattle didn’t think the Sonics were going anywhere.

  • Beacon Hill Pasta Boy

    Art-great post, thank you. I live on Beacon Hill and enjoy the delights of urban living. I travel SODO daily. This is not Iowa. SODO is congested like Downtown, Ballard, Belltown, the U District, SeaTac Airport, Bellevue Square, Northgate, Southcenter. I would rather live here in Seattle,than in Iowa.The congestion that exists in SODO was not created by Mr. Hansen.
    Wheres tthe City and the Port ?
    Instead of allowing the Port of Seattle Executive Director to collect > $200,000 annually in stock from private Port client.  The Port has done nothing but should prioritize the Lander St overpass with new funding  They have dithered instead.

    • Artthiel

       It is easy to jump on the port, but regardless of the missteps of leadership, it’s a huge community asset with a lot of quality jobs that is due a little appreciation from those who see it only as an impediment to sports enjoyment.

  • Beacon Hill Pasta Boy

    Art-great post, thank you. I live on Beacon Hill and enjoy the delights of urban living. I travel SODO daily. This is not Iowa. SODO is congested like Downtown, Ballard, Belltown, the U District, SeaTac Airport, Bellevue Square, Northgate, Southcenter. I would rather live here in Seattle,than in Iowa.The congestion that exists in SODO was not created by Mr. Hansen.
    Wheres tthe City and the Port ?
    Instead of allowing the Port of Seattle Executive Director to collect > $200,000 annually in stock from private Port client.  The Port has done nothing but should prioritize the Lander St overpass with new funding  They have dithered instead.

    • Artthiel

       It is easy to jump on the port, but regardless of the missteps of leadership, it’s a huge community asset with a lot of quality jobs that is due a little appreciation from those who see it only as an impediment to sports enjoyment.

  • jafabian

    Just another step, but a big one.  Not only has the city learned its lessons from the Schultz/Bennett fiasco but it seems also from when Jeff Smulyan tried to move the M’s as well.  I think they need to quit saying how this will bring back the NBA though since the NBA has been silent in all this.  Though I think they’ve probably have said their piece but are publicly staying quiet just so they can save face.

    Since the city is making owners more and more accountable for their venues it’s only a matter of time before those personal licensing fees get tacked onto the ticket prices.  Not sure how that’ll fly in Seattle but then, more and more teams are doing that.  IMO, big arena’s and stadiums isn’t the way to go in the Inernet age but live and learn I guess.

    • Artthiel

       You’re right that this deal is a result of going to school on the mistakes of the past. And it’s a fair point that if there is no tax subsidy of the arena, the private owners will need to pay some the mortgage from ticket revs. Games in a few years will be available on all mobile devices, meaning the urge to attend diminishes. Or you win the lottery.

      • Jamo57

        I don’t know.  VHS was supposed to kill the movie theater, then DVD, home theaters, etc.  

        Movies and sports are still a highly social affair and humans are obviously a social animal.   I think the LA Live platform is a stronger trend, which just adds to that social experience of sporting events.    But the mobile devices, etc. will just give folks more choices to stay connected when they cannot attend.

        Just a contrarian opinion.

      • Akehle

        But Art NOTHING can replace the thrill of being surrounded by tens of thousands of other fans when your team makes an awesome play during a game!!

        • jafabian

          Depends on the cost.  If a $56 ticket gets you at best the nose bleed section I’m happy to watch it on TV or even read the box score online later on.  Tack on maybe $20 for food and another $20 for parking and that’s nearly $100 for “the thrill of a live game.” 

  • jafabian

    Just another step, but a big one.  Not only has the city learned its lessons from the Schultz/Bennett fiasco but it seems also from when Jeff Smulyan tried to move the M’s as well.  I think they need to quit saying how this will bring back the NBA though since the NBA has been silent in all this.  Though I think they’ve probably have said their piece but are publicly staying quiet just so they can save face.

    Since the city is making owners more and more accountable for their venues it’s only a matter of time before those personal licensing fees get tacked onto the ticket prices.  Not sure how that’ll fly in Seattle but then, more and more teams are doing that.  IMO, big arena’s and stadiums isn’t the way to go in the Inernet age but live and learn I guess.

    • Artthiel

       You’re right that this deal is a result of going to school on the mistakes of the past. And it’s a fair point that if there is no tax subsidy of the arena, the private owners will need to pay some the mortgage from ticket revs. Games in a few years will be available on all mobile devices, meaning the urge to attend diminishes. Or you win the lottery.

      • Jamo57

        I don’t know.  VHS was supposed to kill the movie theater, then DVD, home theaters, etc.  

        Movies and sports are still a highly social affair and humans are obviously a social animal.   I think the LA Live platform is a stronger trend, which just adds to that social experience of sporting events.    But the mobile devices, etc. will just give folks more choices to stay connected when they cannot attend.

        Just a contrarian opinion.

      • Akehle

        But Art NOTHING can replace the thrill of being surrounded by tens of thousands of other fans when your team makes an awesome play during a game!!

        • jafabian

          Depends on the cost.  If a $56 ticket gets you at best the nose bleed section I’m happy to watch it on TV or even read the box score online later on.  Tack on maybe $20 for food and another $20 for parking and that’s nearly $100 for “the thrill of a live game.” 

  • RadioGuy

    This arena deal is the best Seattle is going to get…my guess is that the City Council and Metro/KC will aprove it (they DO face elections), and I hope they do.  Then we can look forward to seeing the same people who’ve been verbally hanging Clay Bennett in effigy for four years justifying stealing another city’s existing team away from them to Seattle.  Guess it’s only “stealing” when you’re the victim, not the perp.

    Anyway, I think we need to bring three little words into the conversation before we start speculating whether Hansen will steal (oops…that word again) a team from Sacramento, Milwaukee or Charlotte:  ENVIRONMENTAL.  IMPACT.  STUDY.  Those things have been used to kill a lot of proposed projects in the past, and you have to be pretty naive to believe that the EIS being done on this arena isn’t a potential weapon in the hands of people who don’t want to see it built in SoDo.  It stinks, but this is Seattle we’re talking about.

    • Artthiel

      This agreement is a milestone, not a capstone. You’re right the the EIS could stop it. As far as stealing a team, I wrote that column for the print P-I four years ago, the day after the city announced the settlement with Bennett. We will have to do unto others what Bennett did unto us. The only difference will be that if Hansen buys a team, his agenda will be plain. No faking interest in the current hometown. Still doesn’t mean he and Seattle won’t be cast as villains.
      Yet another consequence of failing to keep what you have.

  • RadioGuy

    This arena deal is the best Seattle is going to get…my guess is that the City Council and Metro/KC will aprove it (they DO face elections), and I hope they do.  Then we can look forward to seeing the same people who’ve been verbally hanging Clay Bennett in effigy for four years justifying stealing another city’s existing team away from them to Seattle.  Guess it’s only “stealing” when you’re the victim, not the perp.

    Anyway, I think we need to bring three little words into the conversation before we start speculating whether Hansen will steal (oops…that word again) a team from Sacramento, Milwaukee or Charlotte:  ENVIRONMENTAL.  IMPACT.  STUDY.  Those things have been used to kill a lot of proposed projects in the past, and you have to be pretty naive to believe that the EIS being done on this arena isn’t a potential weapon in the hands of people who don’t want to see it built in SoDo.  It stinks, but this is Seattle we’re talking about.

    • Artthiel

      This agreement is a milestone, not a capstone. You’re right the the EIS could stop it. As far as stealing a team, I wrote that column for the print P-I four years ago, the day after the city announced the settlement with Bennett. We will have to do unto others what Bennett did unto us. The only difference will be that if Hansen buys a team, his agenda will be plain. No faking interest in the current hometown. Still doesn’t mean he and Seattle won’t be cast as villains.
      Yet another consequence of failing to keep what you have.