BY Art Thiel 12:57PM 04/02/2014

Charity use of SoDo property OK’d by Hansen

Apparently conceding nothing will be happening for awhile on his proposed arena site, Chris Hansen told an audience at a fundraising breakfast Wednesday that he will dedicate  some of the interior space he owns in SoDo to the A-Plus Youth Foundation.’s Chris Daniels tweeted that Hansen said “no (pro) basketball will be played” this year on the seven-acre parcel he purchased to build a $500 million basketball/hockey arena. While that was no surprise, it was a clear indication that progress toward approval of the project remains minimal, as does the acquisition of an NBA team as anchor tenant.

Hansen and his partner, ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, have been supporters of A-Plus, a four-year-old non-profit that describes its mission as using sports “as a vehicle to provide the educational resources and character development necessary for student-athletes to succeed in life.”

Hansen said that after regulatory approval and the granting of permits, the interior space of the building that formerly housed The Canine Club on First Avenue South will be leased to A-Plus indefinitely. Founder and executive director Tavio Hobson told Daniels that basketball hoops will be set up in the building.

Regarding the arena project, the city’s Department of Planning and Development reported last month that it would likely be at least until September before the final version of an environmental impact statement will be released publicly. A draft version of the state-mandated EIS was released in August for public comment.

Opponents of the SoDo site complained that the proposal was inadequate. The drafters in January asked Hansen for more details of his plan, mostly about transportation and parking. The Hansen group is preparing a response.

Hansen told Daniels that he has no plans to ask for a change in the memorandum of understanding between him and the city that would allow an NHL team to be the first tenant, and also said that he personally would not be owner of an NHL team.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and others expressed interest in expanding to Seattle, perhaps as soon as the 2015-16 season. But Tim Burgess, City Council president, said the council is unlikely to accept an MOU change because revenues from an NHL team were forecasted to be significantly less than those from an NBA team, creating a greater risk for the proposed $200 million public contribution to the project.


  • jafabian

    How does the city base it’s research on NHL revenue? On the revenues of other franchises? If that was done in the case of the Sounders the club far exceeded those numbers as before they joined average MLS attendance was 16,460 with the Galaxy leading the way at 26,000. Their inaugural season the Sounders averaged 31,200. I think with the NHL being new to the NW and Vancouver being only a few hours away attendance would be very strong here with the right venue.

    It seems to me the city is willing to a degree to make the return of the NBA to Seattle happen which surprises me. The NBA consistently flips off the city, its leaders, Chris Hansen and his group and the support the Sonics generated during their time here. Isn’t it time to flip them off right back? And reward the NHL who’s always stated they have an interest in the Seattle market? (But have done little to start any movement on it but at least they talk the talk.) The Hansen group did everything right in it’s attempt to move the Kings to Seattle and the NBA took less money to keep the team in a smaller market despite the fact that several teams are losing money according to Forbes.

    I don’t think the NBA has interest in coming here because of the Sounders. The success of the KC Comets in the NASL were a big reason why the Kings moved to Sacramento in the first place, IIRC. The league knows the city has vested in soccer too deeply.

  • Jamo57

    I wonder if we see Don Levin blow through town and start talking up the Bellevue option.

  • WS

    The person to ask about NHL would be Dow Constantine. Remember him? He was shoulder to shoulder with McGinn on this. The MOU and ILA stipulates that the county would have to kick in $80m in bonding should NHL be part of the deal. And I bet that is a non starter if there is no NBA team, from the county’s perspective. Nice that Dow has been so quiet while Burgess took a position. Maybe Dow needs to speak up, since this is a county deal as well….

  • joeleejoel

    Former rabid Sonics’ return supporter here, rethinking everything since the Sacramento debacle. Even at this late date, the sting of the NBA’s contempt for this loyal fan base still informs. Absent the rosy glow of a natural rooting interest, the NBA product seems much less compelling, and the warts are apparent. The refereeing is atrocious and the result is the athletic version of TEGWAR. The primacy of the superstar model is still in ascendance, obliterating all team concerns. The rules are allowing for the evolution of the few superteams and the many sacrificial lambs. Game play has more the air of an exhibition and less of a competition. Even the decline of uniform uniforms (long sleeves, short sleeves, no sleeves) and hip-hop nicknames replacing names on the backs of jerseys, indicate that this game is marketed to a demographic that, valid as it may be, does not include me. So I’m about ready to say, the hell with it.