It's April Fool's Day, and still someone announces an apparently earnest plan [234K PDF] to find financing and a location for a $1 billion basketball and hockey arena, perhaps in SoDo on Pier 46. At least, it appears former Sonic "Downtown Freddie" Brown and his partners are earnest, because Mayor Greg Nickels simultaneously issued a statement that, between the lines, characterizes the concept of Emerald City Center, which would sport a retractable shell of a roof, as half baked and dead at conception:We welcome everyone who wants to try and help solve our problem and welcome all good ideas. We appreciate all Fred Brown has done for Seattle. From bringing Seattle its first modern sports championship with the Sonics to his proposal today for a new sports and entertainment facility, we appreciate his commitment to the community. Today's proposal is a very long-range vision, however, for the foreseeable future Pier 46 will remain one of our most active container facilities. KeyArena is our region's sports and entertainment facility. We remain focused on improving KeyArena so that it will remain the region's sports and entertainment facility for years to come.
For its part, B2, the company headed by Brown that dreams of making KeyArena irrelevant, has kissed the Sonics – and every other existing NBA team – goodbye, according to today's press release announcing the plan:B2 will submit expansion team applications for both the NBA and NHL franchises. "In reality, the Sonics are gone, and quite frankly we do not want to be part of an effort to relocate an existing team to Seattle. We are using the NFL Cleveland Browns model of how to reestablish a team and a facility in a proven pro-sports market," Brown noted. The original Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens. Cleveland was then granted an NFL expansion team and launched the new Cleveland Browns with a new football stadium. "It's obvious that the days of taxpayer-financed sports facilities are over in Seattle. While most facilities are used on a limited basis, our business model creates a 365 days per year revenue stream for the complex, which is very attractive for private investors. We believe the ECC will become a model for other cities to use as they explore facility challenges," Brown continued.