Updated Feb 5, 2012 - 11:29 am
Report: New arena could be built with minimal taxpayer funding
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Christopher Hansen, a wealthy San Francisco hedge-fund manager and Seattle native, has been working behind the scenes to bring an NBA team back to the Emerald City. In recent months, Hansen has purchased land south of the Safeco Field parking garage and told city officials that a sports arena could be built with minimal impact on tax payers.
Public funding for a new arena could include admission taxes and increased tax collections tied to a boost in Sodo property values, according to documents obtained by the Seattle Times. In an email to city leaders, Hansen said he's "confident that with a little effort and creativity we can find a solution that meets our needs and the City's/State's desire to get a team back to Seattle without a large public outlay."
Building a new state-of-the-art multi-purpose arena has been estimated to cost about $400 million.
The city is also following developments of the Sacramento Kings franchise, which could leave the California capital very soon. The city of Sacramento has a March 1 deadline to come up with a viable proposal to build a new arena for the Kings.
According to the report, KeyArena could be used as a temporary home for a new team with permission from the NBA until a more permanent venue is built. A New Jersey arena consultant told city leaders in a meeting that the Kings franchise could play in Seattle as soon as next fall if Sacramento fails with a new arena proposal.
A new multi-purpose arena could also house a professional hockey franchise after recent reports regarding the NHL's interest in the Seattle market. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told ESPN.com's Scott Burnside that "there are a lot of people who think Seattle would be a great place to have a team."
Burnside told the "Kevin Calabro Show on 710 ESPN Seattle" last week that the NHL is looking to sell the Phoenix Coyotes franchise within the next 90 days, though their intention is to keep the team in the desert. Yet, Burnside agrees that the Emerald City could be a favorite to land a team should one become available.
"You'll hear a lot of cities come up over the next three or four months, but I think it's interesting that Seattle, at least in my impression, has moved either to the top of that list or very near it," he said.
No final offer has been made, but Mayor Mike McGinn said Saturday he's taking the proposal very seriously. Though he noted that the city budget cannot be tapped to fund a new multi-purpose arena. In 2006, Seattle voters approved an initiative that says the city must make a profit on any investment it makes in a sports arena.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Follow Michael Simeona, MyNorthwest.com Editor
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