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Seattle Announces New Arena For NBA, NHL Teams

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MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

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SEATTLE (AP) – Christopher Hansen is making a $290 million proposal to his hometown that could be the impetus for a new sports arena that could bring the NBA and NHL to Seattle.

All he needs is city and county approval and the two franchises to make it a reality.

Hansen submitted a proposal to the city on Thursday that calls for $290 million in private investment, plus the cost of acquiring an NBA franchise, to help construct a facility that would cost between $450 million and $500 million.

According to a letter submitted by the Seattle native to the city, the remaining construction and development costs would be financed by the city and King County using taxes and revenues generated by the new facility and rent charged to the teams playing in the arena. City officials are adamant that there will be no new public taxes needed for the building.

The city and county’s debt service for the arena would be capped at $200 million.

The entire project is contingent on Hansen and his investors finding a franchise to make Seattle its home for the long haul. Language in the proposal would call for a 30-year lease with a no-relocation clause.

“There will be no arena unless there is an agreement to get a team here to occupy that arena over a very long term,” King County executive Dow Constantine said at an afternoon press conference that was part pep rally.

The proposal represents the first significant step toward solving the arena problem that was at the root of the SuperSonics’ move from Seattle to Oklahoma City following the 2008 NBA season. The proposal will now go before a review board — a group of community leaders that includes one-time SuperSonics player and coach Lenny Wilkens — with Constantine hoping their review can be completed within a month.

But Seattle’s announcement alone is likely to ramp up pressure in places like Sacramento, New Orleans and Phoenix, whose NBA and NHL futures are tenuous.

“It could mean that the Seattle SuperSonics could play in our city once again,” Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said.

Hansen, a wealthy hedge-fund manager based in San Francisco, was not at Thursday’s news conference but in an interview with The Seattle Times on Wednesday he said a sense of civic pride and his longtime support of the SuperSonics were at the root of his desire to put together one of the largest privately financed arena packages in pro basketball or hockey. City officials say the $290 million in private investment would be the third-most among NBA or NHL arenas, behind only Staples Center in Los Angeles and Madison Square Garden.

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