Man who wants to build arena, return NBA to Seattle answers questions from Seattle Times readers.
Chris Hansen, who has proposed building an arena and bringing the NBA back to Seattle, talked about developing a Seattle version of L.A. Live in Sodo, the Thunder and when the arena might open in a live chat Tuesday with readers.
Q: Who is designing the arena and what will it look like?
Hansen: We haven’t made final decisions on the myriad of contractors, architects and vendors that will be necessary to build a new arena, but I would say I share your desire to have something very unique in terms of design and experience for the Seattle market. Hopefully something that’s never been done before.
Q: What is your biggest concern about the arena deal?
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Hansen: A couple things: The first is that the average supporter in Seattle and the region does not come forward and express his support. I think a lot of people who are for this cross their fingers and hope that it happens, as opposed to standing up and making their voice heard. And over the next two weeks, with this in mind, we will be providing some encouragement and opportunities for our fans and supporters to do so. Look for our Facebook fan page and Twitter # next week.
Q: Word is that the Golden State Warriors are planning a 100 percent privately funded arena. Will that have any affect on your efforts on getting your proposal approved by Seattle and King County?
Hansen: I haven’t seen the details of the Warriors’ plan, but I do know that they are planning to relocate to the piers on San Francisco’s waterfront, which I think is as equally difficult of a traffic location, if not more so, than ours. As far as the financing goes, I do believe that they are getting a small amount of assistance from the city, but also keep in mind that San Francisco is a much larger market than Seattle and there are likely to be some other benefits to this transaction for the Warriors’ ownership as it relates to the real estate, zoning, etc.
Q: How are you convincing council members and other authorities who have concerns of traffic, economy and roads that this will help those causes?
Hansen: Well, I don’t view it as my job to convince them. I honestly view our transaction as such an obviously good deal that it speaks for itself. So my job is really just to explain it and answer their questions and concerns and let them go about making their decisions in the way that they think is best for the city and the county.
Q: In addition to the arena, what other structures will you be building?
Hansen: Our immediate focus is on building the arena, the necessary parking and improving the car and pedestrian access around the arena. In addition, as I’m sure many of you have heard, we would like to build a smaller “Seattle version” of L.A. Live on the stretch between the arena and Safeco. But we definitely don’t have broader plans beyond that for hotels or condos or anything like that.
Q: Do you have trouble watching the NBA right now like I do? It’s almost impossible for me to sit through an entire Thunder game.
Hansen: I love basketball too much to say that I have trouble watching it. I think it’s fair to say I have trouble watching OKC, but I also hate the Lakers, so that was one of the most torturous series I’ve ever had to watch in my life. Couldn’t figure out who to root against.
Q: Are you going to be a hands-on owner like Mark Cuban?
Hansen: I would plan to be a hands-on owner, but certainly not like Cuban. Nothing against Mark; I think he’s been great for the league, but my style is much more reserved. And I believe that the fans would be much more interested in the opinions of the players, coaches and personnel executives than an owner.
Q: If you could pull a magical, yet slightly realistic opening date for the arena out of a hat, when would it be?
Hansen: My style is to under-promise and over-deliver. And one of the biggest worries I have is that people’s current enthusiasm will fade before we have a realistic opportunity of making this a reality. So I’m going to say 2017.