Deal in Place to Build New Arena in Seattle, But Will NBA Return?

A deal was reached this week between Seattle's City Council and a local hedge-fund manager to build a basketball and hockey arena in the Sodo section of the city. But will the deal be enough to lure professional basketball back to the city?
September 13, 2012, 8am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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When the Seattle Supersonics NBA franchise decamped for Oklahoma City in 2008, it was due largely to the fact that the city was unprepared to help upgrade or replace the team's aging arena. Now, with an agreement in place with local investor (and avowed Sonics fan) Chris Hansen to build a "$490 million state-of-the-art basketball and hockey arena in Sodo," there's much to cheer about for those hoping for a return of professional basketball to the Emerald City, reports Lynn Thompson. 

"The agreement, expected to be announced Tuesday, significantly strengthens financial protections for taxpayers in the event of default or bankruptcy by the arena operators, and it requires a state environmental review and an assessment of alternate sites before final legal documents are signed. It also funds improvements to KeyArena and a study on the future of the aging Seattle Center facility, which could face obsolescence if a new arena opens."

According to Thompson, Hansen will contribute $290 million in private money to build the arena. There just one additional small detail to iron out before the project moves forward: "He also must secure a National Basketball Association franchise before the city or county issue construction bonds."

With several teams in uncertain financial situations, including the Sacramento Kings and the New Orleans Hornets, this requirement might not be as far-fetched as it sounds. 

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Published on Monday, September 10, 2012 in The Seattle Times
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