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.
KING5.com’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.