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Chris Hansen weighs a new option for bringing back Sonics

At Tuesday's Crosscut editorial board meeting, the would-be arena developer lets a new option slide for bringing back Seattle's basketball sweethearts.
Chris Hansen with Crosscut publisher Greg Shaw

Chris Hansen with Crosscut publisher Greg Shaw Ronald Holden


Scroll down for exclusive Art Thiel video....NEW (10:15 10/19/12): Video of Chris Hansen editorial board

Crosscut Editorial Board Chris Hansen 20121016 from MFV on Vimeo.

Now that eight months of throat-clearing have concluded, it is finally reasonable to speak of candidates to eventually fill the pro basketball void left by the human voids Howard Schultz and Clay Bennett.

1. Sacramento. 2. Milwaukee. 3. Charlotte.

Oh. One more. Expansion.

The last suggestion was uttered by Chris Hansen. In a conversation with editors and writers at Crosscut Tuesday, the day after his basketball/hockey arena project was buoyed by approving votes from the city and county council, Hansen answered the question of which with a what.

"There's not a lot of teams ready to relocate or up for sale," Hansen said. "There are processes underway now in the NBA, including revenue sharing and a luxury tax that can make small markets viable."

"In a few years, the league may consider expansion."

Up until now, Hansen has stuck to the conventional wisdom that the NBA, 10 months removed from a lockout, is highly unlikely to consider expanding from its current 30 teams to the always preferable 32 (four eight-team divisions, ease of scheduling, etc.). But since a settlement with the players union on a new collective bargaining agreement, NBA commissioner David Stern has been talking about the prospects of every team being able to at least break even in three years.

“I think we're going to have about 10 teams losing money this year (2011-12)," Stern told Sports Business Daily. "The number is going to go down next year. The year after, every team will have, I think, the opportunity to break even or make some money. We're trending in the right direction.

"Our revenue sharing doesn't click in fully until the year after next. But it does start to increase starting this year. We're seeing a leveling of the playing field through the tax system, together with revenue sharing, where it's going to be all about management and not about money."

Stern's claim can dismissed as cheerleading rhetoric, but if it's one of his occasional moments of truth-telling — and after all, the lockout was about making the league profitable — it was seen as a blow to Hansen's ability to secure a team: Why would a team go through the manipulations and hassles of moving if it was making money?

But now that the timeline of the arena project has become clearer, the notion of a financially healthier NBA being able to expand creeps onto the far horizon.

Eight months after the plan was announced, the amended memorandum of understanding that was signed Tuesday afternoon by the principals includes an environmental impact study that is expected to take a year. And the MOU is virtually guaranteed to be challenged in court by the longshoreman's union. If the MOU is overturned because it fails to consider alternative sites besides SoDo, the project will be delayed.

If a King County Superior Court judge sides with the city, county and Hansen that alternative sites are fairly considered, and the SoDo site is adopted, the timetable for the construction project is probably a three-year minimum, putting the earliest opening at October 2016 — or after Stern's timetable for universal break-even.

All this is speculative, of course, but the virtue of expansion is not. There will be no hijacking of another fan base, which has been, since the day in July 2008 the Sonics left, the most odious consequence of bringing back the NBA — doing dirty unto others as dirty was done unto you.

Hansen reiterated Tuesday that he is not going to be predatory.

"We're not going to go around saying, 'Please sell us your team,' "he said. "We're not going to pry a team away."


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Comments:

Posted Wed, Oct 17, 8:27 a.m. Inappropriate

Expansion would be preferable to ripping off another city. Even more important, however, is to make sure the environmental process going forward is not just window dressing. Sodo remains a bad location for a new arena.

It will be interesting to see how all this plays out, and what price people on the county and city councils pay at the ballot box for putting the interests of a for-profit private enterprise owned by multimillionaires and billionaires ahead of legitimate and urgent local government needs. Y'all enjoy voting more taxes for the seawall, schools, libraries, roads, etc., while funds that otherwise could be used for at least one of these purposes flow into Steve Ballmer's and Chris Hansen's pockets -- after all, these pour souls never have enough.

Posted Wed, Oct 17, 10:40 a.m. Inappropriate

Good to see Art doing a gig for CROSSCUT.

Hansen says he will follow SEPA. The problem is the City of Seattle
did not. It is the City that is vulnerable in the litigation.

Ross Kane
Warm Beach

Ross

Posted Wed, Oct 17, 1:23 p.m. Inappropriate

@arthurking "for putting the interests of a for-profit private enterprise owned by multimillionaires ...while funds that otherwise could be used for at least one of these purposes flow into Steve Ballmer's and Chris Hansen's pockets -" Arthur you know damn well that this is NOT TRUE!. The Arena will use less than 3% of the City's bonding capacity and will be paid back only through Arena generated revenue. It has NOTHING to do with the Seawall Bond which requires new taxes because that's how the City pays for new capital projects. And NO GENERAL FUND money ($ that supports schools and libraries) will be used to pay for the arena. And not a single dime of taxes will flow into Balmer's and Hansen's pockets. All the arena tax revenue is going to pay for the development of a $500,000,000 arena which the city and county will own. Balmer, Hansen, Nordstrom etc will kick in $290,000,000 of their own $$$ for the arena and another $450,000,000 for a team at big personal risks,

and Ross The City is not vulnerable to litigation. Have you read the MOU? It clearly states that the Project will complete a full SEPA and environmental review as well as Economic impact statement. The reason SoDo is called out... that is the proposal on the table. They have to start with picking a "proposed" site to include in the proposal and then look at alternate sites. What do you think alternate sites means? They have to be alternate to something. The MOU states that all SEPA results will be addressed or the City/County or Investors can withdraw. This law-suit is really a stalling/delaying tactic. The Port, Mariners, and MIC have a plan that they have put together to try to sink the Sonic Arena's battleship.... When the lawsuit is dismissed you will see their next step... In the meantime Hanjiin is setting sale for Tacoma, because they are not getting the customer service they need (nothing to do with the arena).
If the Mariners, Port and Mic came to the table to problem solve rather than blow up plans, we could have a pretty amazing SoDo neighborhood that works for all.

Malc9

Posted Wed, Oct 17, 3:31 p.m. Inappropriate

The revised MOU being approved before the state mandated reviews is against the law. It does not matter if you are for, or against, the arena, the approval of the revised MOU was against the law.

Seattle gains no profit from this arena, and ends up only paying public funds to Hansen/Ballmer. Hansen/Ballmer would be Seattle tax exempt. So, Hansen, and Ballmer, put 145 million dollars of up-front Seattle public funds in their pockets, then Hansen and Ballmer put the Seattl public funds used to pay debt service in their pocket, then Hansen and Ballmer put 30 million dollars of General Fund property taxes in their pocket, then Hansen and Ballmer put the savings from their complete Seattle tax exemption into their pocket, then Hansen and Ballmer put diverted Key Arena revenue into their pocket, then Section 20 of the MOU mandates Seattle work to gain Hansen and Ballmer Federal/state tax avoidance--these avoided taxes goes into Hansen and Ballmers pockets........ I could go on, but there is no need.

Hansen and Ballmer are freeloaders.

jhande

Posted Wed, Oct 17, 4:17 p.m. Inappropriate

Malc9,

You're not paying attention: The City signs an MOU with Hansen, who has stated publically that he has zero interest in other sites - and you don't believe that pre-supposes an outcome? The MOU has the appearance of being rigged. The defense costs here will fall on taxpayers.

I don't even remotely care, I live WAY of of town, but from forty years in government and working with land use issues, I sure wouldn't bet on the City winning in Court.

Ross Kane
Warm Beach

Ross

Posted Thu, Oct 18, 8:33 a.m. Inappropriate


We could have NBA this year just by getting Paul Allen to move the Trailblazers up here to use the Tacoma Dome.

jabailo

Posted Sat, Oct 20, 1:05 a.m. Inappropriate

The opponents will have to argue how this situation is so different from the Safeco Field selection process.
http://www.ballpark.org/timeline.htm

A preferred site was selected before the draft EIS was complete.
An agreement on how the stadium would be funded was agreed to befor the draft EIS was complete.
A Public Facilities District was formed before the draft EIS was complete.
A stadium design group was selected before the draft EIS was complete.
All alternative sites for site location were roughly in the same area.

Good luck with that.

Mr Baker

Posted Sat, Oct 20, 9:59 p.m. Inappropriate

The local power structure of "progressive" Seattle politicians is trying to perfect that old adage about politics: A successful candidate is a person who gets money from the rich and votes from the poor to protect them from each other.

Remember when Mayor McGinn, or King Co. Exec Dow Constantine, or the rest of their ilk, ask to be reelected (or promoted): their only claim to fame is riding on the backs of the poor to make us all bend over for the multimillionaires to suck more money out of the public till.

They do not need $200 million in public bonds. WE need the money to deal with the cuts in services these Wall St. Democrats have forced on us.

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