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Is Bellevue still in the mix for a new NBA-NHL arena?

The Bellevue Downtown Association is holding a community forum to find out whether Bellevue can house a new NBA-NHL arena on the Eastside. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

It’s been nearly two weeks since political leaders announced a proposal from private investor Christopher Hansen to build a new sports arena in Seattle’s SoDo district. Does that mean the city of Bellevue is out of the running for this important regional project?

Tuesday morning, the Bellevue Downtown Association is holding a community forum to find out whether the Eastside’s biggest city is still a player.

Patrick Bannon, BDA’s vice president of communications, points out that Bellevue was actually part of the big picture back in 2006 when Clay Bennett purchased the Seattle SuperSonics and was looking for properties to build a new arena.

The two most likely spots for the project are the somewhat vacated auto row on 116th Ave. on the south side of Interstate 405, or the abandoned Safeway distribution site on Bel-Red Road in the Spring District. Both of these sites, however, are up for extensive redevelopment by their owners.

Don Levin, an Illinois businessman and owner of a minor league hockey team, has explored Bellevue properties lately. If the Phoenix Coyotes or another NHL franchise relocates, Levin would like to move them to King County.

Bannon says the Bellevue Downtown Association membership hopes to learn what benefits and impacts would come to the city if a new arena attracts professional basketball and/or hockey. The City of Bellevue is making infrastructure improvements, including light rail along the I-405 corridor, which could dovetail with a sports arena

Brian Robinson, president of ArenaSolution.org, is the primary speaker at the BDA forum. Robinson told me two weeks ago the region must take care of its business if the Sacramento Kings or New Orleans Hornets move from their current cities.

“I wish nothing but the best for the fans in Sacramento,” said Robinson. “If they get their deal done, then we’ll be looking for another available team. If they don’t, I think that’s a franchise likely to move somewhere.”

According to reports, the Sacramento team owners have agreed to a framework to finance a new arena and keep the Kings in the California state capitol. NBA commissioner David Stern also says he has a buyer for the Hornets who will keep them in Louisiana.

The Bellevue Downtown Association forum also features commercial real estate expert Craig Kinzer, Bellevue City Manager Steve Sarkozy, and Tim Romer, an infrastructure banker with Goldman Sachs. The meeting begins at 7:30 a.m. at the downtown Bellevue Westin Hotel.

About the Author

Bill Swartz

Sports anchor, news reporter, emcee, and a man of many voices, Bill Swartz has been a jack-of-all trades during his career, especially at KIRO Radio and 710 ESPN Seattle since 2002.

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