Seattle arena investor says no hockey-first plan yet
SEATTLE (AP) Throughout the process, Seattle arena investor Chris Hansen has remained open to the idea of a hockey team being the first tenant for a proposed facility in the city's stadium district even if his focus is on basketball.
One problem: Even with indications that Seattle could be a viable expansion market for the NHL, no one has come to Hansen's group with a proposal for a hockey franchise to be the initial occupant.
''We've had a lot of informal discussions with people about this, but us or the city have yet to be presented with any kind of offer. I mean any kind of even basic offer that would be the opening point for negotiating something,'' Hansen said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday.
''I just want to make that clear. No one has come forward and made an offer to do this in a way that would be unacceptable or acceptable. There hasn't been any negotiation around the terms of how this could be changed. We've taken a very simple approach: Don't make it worse for us and don't make it worse for the city and use your own creativity and just come back to us with something that is fair and we don't have anything back yet.''
Hansen spoke on a number of topics during the lengthy interview, including the recently completed final environmental impact statement, the prospects of Seattle landing an NBA franchise and the prospects of a competing arena in the suburb of Tukwila.
But the lack of formal discussions around a potential hockey franchise was surprising, considering his original memorandum of understanding with the city of Seattle and King County was approved more than two years ago and immediate NBA prospects have dimmed.
The original MOU calls for arena construction to begin only after the acquisition of a basketball franchise. A revised MOU for a hockey-first scenario would need to be approved by local governments and likely require more private investment.
Hansen acknowledged having discussions with Victor Coleman, the head of a Los Angeles-based real estate company who owns properties in Seattle's stadium district and is known to be interested in trying to bring in hockey. Those discussions have yet to yield a formal proposal.
''It's not my job to talk Victor or another perspective owner into doing this. It's my job if they would like to do it to be as accommodating as possible in helping find a way to be able to see hockey come first,'' Hansen said.
While most of the focus has been on hockey prospects, Hansen remains committed to trying to get the NBA back to Seattle. Despite statements from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver about expansion not being a priority for the league, Hansen said he remains optimistic, saying the chances of Seattle not having a basketball team ''in the next five to 10 years, pretty close to zero.''
''It's going to require patience. The league is going to expand when they're ready to expand or another opportunity will come up with a team to move that is unforeseen at the time,'' Hansen said. ''Our job is not to speculate or pin the league down on when this will happen, our job is to have an arena plan ready so when this inevitability pops up we'll be ready to go.''
Hansen said he doesn't feel pressured by a recent proposal for a privately funded arena in the suburb of Tukwila, about 12 miles south of his potential facility. Hansen said even if plans for that arena continue to gain momentum, he'll continue to push forward with his plan, citing the work his group did on determining what they believe was the best location for an arena in the region.