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Chris Hansen: 'Now the Work Begins' on Basketball and Hockey Arena

[Photo of Chris Hansen with Crosscut publisher Greg Shaw by Ronald Holden]

Private equity investor Chris Hansen, fresh from two favorable votes (by the King County Council and the Seattle City Council) was preparing to sign a Memorandum of Understanding this afternoon that he described in familiar words: "a non-binding terms sheet." But before he could do that, he had to sit for a scheduled interview with the writers and editors of the public affairs website Crosscut.com, the proceedings were also taped for broadcast by the SeattleChannel.

Hansen points out that his basketball & hockey arena project calls for much less public financing than previous sports facilities in Seattle. Private developers, he says, will put in the most capital.

Construction of a facility, he acknoweldges, is contingent on a long process of environmental and economic studies as well as negotiations with parties like the maritime industry (whose longshoremen have indicated they will file suit against the SoDo project).

And only after it's clear that an arena will, in fact, be built can the delicate corutship with the NBA begin in earnest to find a team that's in a position to move to Seattle.

A lot of NBA owners, Hansen says, are "egotistical and self-centered, and lack a community-oriented vision."

Growing up in Seattle's Rainier Valley, and working at the neighborhood's iconic Chubby & Tubby sporting-goods store, Hansen was regularly exposed to visits by Sonics players who would visit neighborhood schools, parks and playgrounds to encourage kids to be serious about their studies as well as their shooting skills. "That's what owning the franchise should be: a platform for doing good in the community."