Entrepreneur Chris Hansen wants to build an arena in Sodo to lure an NBA team back to Seattle. Here’s what needs to happen for that dream to come true.

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If entrepreneur Chris Hansen goes with all-private funding for a proposed Sodo arena, as he pledged to do Tuesday, he would no longer have a deadline for acquiring an NBA team. But the goal, of course, is still to get one.

 

So what would it take for that to happen?

It’s mostly up to the NBA. One of the reasons Seattle City Council members gave for killing the sale of a street for an arena in May was that Hansen had yet to show he could secure a franchise. But the league is expected to eventually consider expansion, after it wraps up a new seven-year collective-bargaining agreement this year. Seattle could get a team in that potential expansion.

 

When might that be?

Probably not soon. The NBA has maintained that no new franchises will be added through at least 2017, regardless of whether Seattle has an arena by then.

Hansen’s earlier Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the city and county had required a team to be in hand by November 2017. The switch to all-private funding unshackles his group from that date, so they could apply for an NBA team whenever the league has one to offer.

“Organizations do tend to grow over time, and I think that we’re no different,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in April. “There are some great communities out there that I know would be wonderful NBA homes. Seattle of course is one of those, and we’ve had a great experience there. But at least right now it’s not something we’re even discussing internally.”

Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer echoed that last sentiment in July, saying, “There’s been no discussion about expansion since I have been involved with the league. So, I don’t think that will happen.”

 

Would renovating KeyArena be an easier way to lure the NBA back?

The idea of such a renovation had previously been dismissed as unfeasible and something the NBA would never want. But Silver said in April that he hasn’t ruled out anything.

“Ultimately, I’m not even sure what the Seattle community would want in terms of either a new arena or KeyArena,” Silver said at the time. “So while we’re not actively looking at expansion anywhere, it’s far from me to say that one site or one arena is preferable. I just don’t know.”

 

What about hockey?

The NHL has expressed interest privately about putting a team here. Its expansion to Las Vegas for the 2017-18 season puts the league at an uneven 31 teams — with 16 in the East and 15 in the West — fueling speculation of a second Western-based expansion team being added within a couple of years. That would appear to leave a door open to Hansen or a potential Hansen partner acquiring an NHL team while he waits for the NBA to be ready to follow. But such a deal has yet to materialize.

Seattle Times reporter Geoff Baker wrote in June that the key to making an all-private arena venture work would be the belief that if a Sodo arena gets built for the NHL, the NBA and new investors eventually would join Hansen. Most believe an NHL team alone wouldn’t provide enough revenues to succeed long term.

The only city to land an NHL or NBA expansion franchise this decade needed a privately funded arena to make it happen — and that’s precisely what Hansen now plans to do.

Meanwhile, hockey fans, you can always go see the Thunderbirds.