An environmental-impact statement (EIS) on the SoDo arena project pitched by entrepreneur Chris Hansen has been pushed back three more months.
Bryan Stevens, a spokesman for the city’s planning department, said Friday it will likely be mid-May before the oft-delayed statement can be issued for further review. After that, with expected appeals and additional political steps factored in, it could take until the middle of next year before Hansen is approved for a master use permit needed to start any construction process.
“We had a conversation with the EIS consultant and based on the level of information that’s coming in, it’s been revised,’’ Stevens said.
The consultant, Katy Chaney of URS Corporation, informed the city about the expected delay earlier this week. Chaney did not respond to a phone request Friday for an interview.
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Hansen also did not immediately respond to an interview request, nor did his spokesman, Rollin Fatland.
But planning department spokesman Stevens said that the four separate arena concepts being considered for the EIS has made Chaney’s task more complex. Chaney must evaluate two separate Hansen arena proposals in SoDo — for venues of 20,000 and 18,000 seats — plus two alternate sites at Seattle Center.
“We don’t typically require off-site alternatives,’’ Stevens said. “But because of the level of funding involved, we felt it necessary to look at those to make sure the site that gets approved is really making the best use of public funds.’’
A memorandum of understanding between Hansen, the city and King County pledges up to $200 million in bond funds if Hansen gets both an NBA and NHL team to his arena. He’ll receive $120 million for an NBA team alone.
There is no provision for funding an arena with only an NHL tenant. That means even if Hansen gets the required permit approval to build an arena, he’d still need to modify his deal with the city and county if no NBA team appears forthcoming.
The NBA has hinted it won’t be expanding for at least a couple of years. Right now, the best shot at an NBA franchise appears to be relocating the Milwaukee Bucks if they can’t secure funding for a new arena of their own this year.
While the Atlanta Hawks were put up for sale last week, NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in an email that the league won’t allow the franchise to be relocated. A number of ownership groups are said to have surfaced to buy the Hawks with the intention of keeping them in Atlanta.
The EIS will now have been delayed more than a year from when it was initially expected. Much of that was due to Hansen taking several additional months to produce needed paperwork related to traffic in the area.
Hansen turned in the paperwork in late September, four months after his arena group’s biggest partner — billionaire former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer — left to purchase the Los Angeles Clippers. Hansen said soon after that he planned to add multiple investors to his group, but has yet to announce any.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286
On Twitter @gbakermariners. Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners