Even after the city council’s vote in May of five to four against a necessary street vacation in order to build the proposed SoDo Sports Arena, entrepreneur Chris Hansen has not given up on his dream of bringing the Sonics back to Seattle sports fans. Last Wednesday, Hansen purchased an additional 4.9 acres just south of the proposed arena site for $32 million, according to public records.
The two parcels, located at the corner of South Holgate Street and Occidental Avenue South, are where Hansen envisions a parking garage for the arena, sources say. Potentially, this could be a solution to the city’s concern regarding parking for arena guests. However, Hansen may have even more hurdles to jump before his plans can materialize. In April, NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated that the league does not have any plans to expand over the next two years.
We now need to take a little time to step back and evaluate our options, better understand the council’s concerns and find a path forward
Currently the properties at 1900 and 2228 Occidental Avenue South, located in Seattle’s industrial district, house a 125,519-square-foot warehouse as well as SoDo Spirits Distillery. According to Bill Vipond, the president of Vipond Group and real estate consultant for Hansen, the tenants’ contracts will continue to be honored, sources say. No official plans for the site have been made at this time.
In 2012, Hansen made a legally binding deal with the City of Seattle and King County that would provide for up to $200 million in public funding for a new arena for both a NBA and NHL team, according to a news release issued by King County. The deal was that the debt payments would be made solely with revenue generated by the area. The Hansen ownership group put a guaranty in place, in case of any shortcomings from revenue for these payments, in addition, Hansen also provided a personal guaranty. In accordance, Hansen also agreed to build sidewalks, a parking garage and make significant contributions towards a street overpass. The deal is set to expire in November 2017.
During his last public statement made after the vote against the street vacation in May, Hansen assured his supporters that it was not the end of the road in his quest to bring the NBA and NHL back to Seattle. “We now need to take a little time to step back and evaluate our options, better understand the council’s concerns and find a path forward,” Hansen said in the statement.