With the Sacramento Kings lurking as a potential target, Seattle officials today unveiled a tentative agreement with a financier for a downtown basketball and hockey arena.
While the project is far from a certainty, the tentative agreement, if approved by the City Council and other authorities, would be a major step for financier Chris Hansen's efforts to secure an NBA team for the city.
The agreement would give Hansen the ability "to go shopping" for a team," said Seattle City Council President Sally Clark at a press conference.
She added that no construction will begin until a team has been found. "We certainly hear rumors about a couple of teams being on the market, this year or next," she said.
A spokesman for the Maloofs, owners of the Kings, said they wouldn't comment on the Seattle developments. "Their comment is the same as before - they're not going to weigh in on every rumor," said spokesman Eric Rose.
Hansen's plans to return the NBA to Seattle first surfaced in the spring. He wants to build a $490 million arena, with private interests contributing more than half the funding. The city would borrow upwards of $120 million, with the debt to be repaid by tax revenue from the arena.
City officials said Hansen, a Bay Area hedge fund manager who grew up in Seattle, has agreed to personally guarantee the debt in case tax revenues fall short. His pledge "was a critical deal for us," said City Councilman Mike O'Brien.
Last month a report surfaced that the Maloofs were negotiating to move the team to Virginia Beach, Va. That possibility appeared to fizzle when a proposal for a new arena got a lukewarm reception from the Virginia Beach City Council. Also, an executive with the development group said he'd had no negotiations with the Maloofs.
The future of the Kings in Sacramento has been in question since the Maloofs walked away from a deal in the spring to build a new arena at the downtown railyard. The family has insisted it is committed to Sacramento.
The Seattle Times said Hansen has already spent $51 million buying land immediately south of downtown for the project.
© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.
Read more articles by Dale Kasler
What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com
Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)
Here are some rules of the road:
Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "Report Abuse" link to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.
Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.
Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.
Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand.
Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.
Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.
Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.
Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.
Don't flag other users' comments just because you don't agree with their point of view. Please only flag comments that violate these guidelines.
You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "Report Abuse" link to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at email@example.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.
If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them.