Sport is all about passion and emotion. Any time a team with "Seattle" stitched across their chest is competing, the whole city fills with pride watching them give their all. Thanks to Chris Hansen, Seattle could be brimming with joy watching two new professional sports teams compete and represent our phenomenal city.
As if the SoDo district wasn't already the epicenter of Seattle sports, it could potentially be home of two more major professional sports teams to go along with the Seahawks, Mariners, and Sounders. In two years, the city of Seattle could be showcasing a brand new, top-notch arena located just to the south of Safeco Field, that houses both an NBA and NHL team. If you haven't already, let that sink in for a moment.
If Seattle does finalize a plan to build a new world-class arena, Chris Hansen would immediately become a local legend. Hansen and his group will be responsible for $290 million dollars of the proposed $490 million dollar arena and the public would be responsible for picking up the tab on the remaining $200 million dollars.
However, because Seattle passed Initiative 91, the city must see a fair return on a public investment on any new arena. The proposal by Chris Hansen for a new arena would comply fully with Initiative 91 and the city would get that fair return on its investment. The city would fund the arena through its own revenue stream and the $200 million dollars that the public would be responsible for would be paid in full from the rent payments and tax revenue on the stadium. This is a new revenue stream that wouldn't be available without the arena and it would not suck money from other civic projects. The people of Seattle would not be burdened with any new taxes. The city of Seattle and King County will ultimately own the land and the actual facility. Financial protection for the city is also guaranteed in the proposal. The deal looks to be pretty sound.
This is why Mayor Mike McGinn and the Seattle City Council were won over by Chris Hansen's arena proposal. They held a press conference on Thursday afternoon to formally announce a proposal to build a new first-class arena to the public. The official proposal is to construct an arena in the SoDo area that would accommodate the NBA, NHL, concerts and other cultural events. There would be a significant private investment from Chris Hansen and there would be a maximum public participation of $200 million. Chris Hansen's proposal will keep any team that comes to Seattle here for a minimum of 30 years because of a binding non-relocation agreement. In other words, no Clay Bennetts would be swooping in for at least three decades.
The possible snag with bringing an NBA and possibly an NHL team to Seattle will be finding the teams that will actually come to the Pacific Northwest. The NBA has made it clear that they will not expand with another team, nor should they. If Seattle is to be awarded with an NBA team, then it would have to be one of the 30 NBA franchises that already exists.
Currently, it seems like the most likely NBA team that could relocate to Seattle would be the Sacramento Kings. There are two other franchises to keep a watchful eye on though: the New Orleans Hornets and the Charlotte Bobcats. It's no secret that the New Orleans Hornets are already owned by the NBA but David Stern, the NBA Commissioner, has been adamant that the Hornets will remain in New Orleans. However, if the Hornets cannot find local ownership, (which is something they have not been able to do since the NBA took ownership of the Hornets in December of 2010) then the Hornets could be purchased by new a new ownership ground and relocate if they wish.
As for the Charlotte Bobcats, they are a franchise that has struggled immensely to put together a winning team. While the Bobcats do have one of the best stadiums in the NBA, their owner, Michael Jordan, is losing money and there have been rumors that he and his financial partners might be looking to sell the team in the near future. Something to watch.
As far as the NHL goes, the Phoenix Coyotes are the most obvious team that could relocate to the Emerald City. Much like the NBA's New Orleans Hornets, the Phoenix Coyotes are owned by the NHL. Fan support for the Coyotes has been less than stellar in Phoenix and it is logical to conclude that it is only a matter of time before they find a new home in a different city.
There seems to be a general understanding that construction will not start on this proposed new arena until there is a guarantee that either, or maybe both, an NBA or NHL team will relocate to Seattle. The details of this new arena still need to be ironed out on many issues, and the proposal still has a long ways to go, but the future of Seattle sports certainly is bright with this new proposal from Chris Hansen and the support of Mayor Mike McGinn.
In 1917, the Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup.
In 1979, the Seattle SuperSonics won the NBA Championship.
In the near future, nearly a century since it last happened, Seattle could have a professional hockey team competing to win another Stanley Cup. And, after over four decades since it was last accomplished, the city could again have a professional basketball team competing to win an NBA title.