Photo Credit: KING 5 News
Update 10:45 pm: The Seattle Times is now reporting that a City Hall official has said the press conference still is not finalized. Officials are tying up loose ends tonight trying to make this happen tomorrow. But, there is still a chance there will be no press conference.
Sources tell KING 5 and the Seattle Times that Christopher Hansen, the hedge fund manager from San Francisco, is in Seattle and will announce his arena proposal tomorrow at a press conference scheduled for 2 p.m. Hansen was said to have met with the Seattle City Council tonight to discuss his proposal for a new arena south of Safeco Field. This has the potential to be a major development in luring a NBA and/or NHL team to Seattle as soon as next season. Both league commissioners have said a new arena plan must be finalized before they even think about coming to Seattle.
Tonight, Sports Radio KJR's Mitch Levy has been saying on Twitter that this arena proposal involves no public funding whatsoever. The taxes would involve admission and property taxes, both of which are not required to be paid by taxpayers, nor are they considered public funding. Levy is also reporting Hansen will not be attending the press conference, rather, it will just be Mayor Mike McGinn and the Seattle City Council there to make an announcement. Hansen still wants to lay low and not become a distraction.
In regards to the funding of the arena, Levy reports that Hansen and his investors might be spending upwards of $280 million of private money into the project. That would be more private money than any other arena except the Staples Center and Madison Square Garden, says Levy.
As of right now, this arena proposal is a win-win for fans. There are no public taxes being proposed and the investor, Hansen, seems to be committed to this project for the long term. Now, the matter of drawing teams to Seattle is still unresolved. Even if this arena plan is finalized, there is no guarantee yet that an NBA or NHL team will come next season, or even in the next few years. But, having an arena plan in place, with a set timetable for construction would be a huge plus.
Both the NBA and NHL have said that in order to have a team in Seattle, a new arena proposal must be finalized. This is why the news today is crucial. The sooner the deal is done the better for Seattle fans. Once this occurs, the pressure shifts to the NBA and NHL. It's their move. They said teams would have a good chance of coming to Seattle with a new arena. The onus would be placed on those leagues to set the wheels in motion on basketball and hockey in Seattle as soon as next season.
There are still a lot of loose ends to tie up. But today's news is a huge step in the right direction.
- Alex Gallant (@Alex_Gallant)