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Chris Hansen’s group wants to tear up Seattle Arena MOU for new one

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A new MOU could make it easier to get an NHL franchise here first

After continuing to buy up every bit of SoDo he could get his hands on, Chris Hansen shocked a lot of people by trotting out an offer for his group to just pay for a multi-purpose Seattle arena themselves so long as the city gave them the street vacation they needed (which the council voted against last time).

Then we realized this offer was an attempt to one-up the city in their own efforts to revitalize KeyArena, which is still a work in progress.

After a few quiet weeks on the arena front, Hansen’s group is back with a new letter to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Exec Dow Constantine asking them to rip up the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two sides and consider a revised version.

Right now, the deal calls for Hansen to acquire the rights to an NBA franchise before the city will agree to anything. Under this new desired plan, an NHL franchise would also be considered good enough to move the deal forward. The implication, if one chooses to read into it, is that bringing an NHL franchise to Seattle is going to be a little easier than bringing an NBA franchise. At least for now.

The group, which also includes Peter and Erik Nordstrom as well as Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, still needs the vacation of two-block section of Occidental Ave South to make it happen.

Here’s what else the new plan would call for:

  • “Restore $200 million in debt capacity to the City and County" in exchange for the vacation, per their recent offer to just pay for the arena themselves.
  • Let the city and county keep sales tax revenue generated by the arena which would have been devoted to debt service for the bonds.
  • A waiver on the city’s admissions tax, which CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field received.
  • A requested “adjustment” to the City’s Business and Occupation Tax for national broadcast media.
  • A commitment to a transportation plan that works with local businesses (i.e. Port of Seattle)

Hansen added some thoughts on why the deal makes sense for the city:

"We believe this proposal makes a good-faith effort to address the concerns expressed by council members and represents the best opportunity to bring a state-of-the-art new professional sports venue to Seattle. In addition to being privately financed with no direct costs to the City or County, the region would benefit from the Arena’s net positive economic impact of between $230 and $286 million a year. Approving the conditional street vacation in no way hampers or interferes with the Key Arena RFP process, but rather puts the city in the best possible position to take advantage of franchise opportunities that could become available."

Meanwhile, Russell Wilson added his two cents as well:

Approving the conditional street vacation makes the Arena shovel-ready, and sends a loud message to the NBA and NHL that Seattle is ready and eager for teams. That we want our Sonics back to accompany the Storm, and a hockey team to pick up where the Seattle Metropolitans left off nearly a century ago. All we need is for the Seattle City Council to make this one last nod of approval.

No word yet from the mayor, who seems to be pushing for the KeyArena remodel on the low-key, but he has said that he doesn’t think the city will revisit the vacation petition until later next year.

Safeco Field

1250 1st Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98134 Visit Website

CenturyLink Field

800 Occidental Avenue South, , WA 98134 Visit Website

KeyArena

305 Harrison St., Seattle, WA 98109