Let’s hurry up with Chris Hansen’s arena plan

Jun 21, 2012, 11:05 AM | Updated: 11:18 am

By Jim Moore

I understand that it’s all part of the necessary process when Chris Hansen met with the King County and Seattle City councils this week to discuss his proposal to build an arena south of Safeco Field.

And I understand that the council members have to ask questions so they can make sure that taxpayers aren’t at risk. I also understand that the Port of Seattle has justifiable concerns about increased traffic and congestion that would result from events at the arena.

But overall, the project seems like such a no-brainer that it should be rubber-stamped sooner instead of later. Or heaven forbid, sooner instead of never at all.

This guy wants to bring a world-class facility to Seattle. He wants to bring the NBA back, wants to bring the NHL here for the first time. He wants to build what looks to be a pretty cool covered pedestrian mall with restaurants, bars and shops.

IMG 0118
Chris Hansen’s plan to build an NBA/NHL arena in Seattle’s SoDo district seems like a no-brainer. (710Sports.com photo)

While proposing to do this, he and his rich buddies want to throw in $290 million of their own money and are asking for $200 million that will be paid back through revenues generated by the arena.

I’ve watched him and heard him over the past two days, answering questions in a straight-forward manner. I love that he looks so relaxed and sounds so calm. Not once has he turned David Stern-like and become the condescending jerk that I no doubt would have if I were answering some of those questions.

Here’s what I’d like to say to the council members: Before you sign off on this sucker, do your due diligence. If you feel it’s necessary, form yet another review panel to check into Hansen and his friends.

But I don’t need a review panel to tell me about Steve Ballmer. I read that the Microsoft CEO is worth $15.4 billion. That’s 15,000 and 400 million. The Nordstroms are worth another 300 or 400 million. Hansen is worth, what, let’s say $750 million or $1 billion. And we still haven’t heard who the other four or five investors are, but they’re no doubt multi-millionaires too.

So worst-case scenario, if the whole thing defaults, I think they can come up with $200 million in their sleep. Ballmer probably has that in the ashtray of his Mercedes or whatever billionaires are driving these days.

Let’s get a move on already. The city council plans to vote on the memorandum of understanding to build the arena in mid-August. The county council needs to adopt the same timeline. That’s more than enough time to figure it out, isn’t it? Six weeks. Most of us needed six seconds, but if you need six weeks, fine.

I’m not a fan of the process, but you know what I’m not sick of? Looking at the Sacramento Kings’ roster and thinking about those players being introduced at the home opener at KeyArena for the 2013-14 season. That’s why I’m in a hurry-up offense. This due-diligence phase of the process is not as interesting as the next phase: speculating on which team will become the 2.0 version of the Seattle SuperSonics.

If you Google “lame” and “ducks,” I’m guessing the Sacramento Kings will pop up on your screen. They’ve got owners that I’d love to have a drink with, but they’re in dire financial straits. At some point, even if they don’t want to, the Maloofs might be forced to sell their team. And even if they prefer to sell to an owner who will keep the team in Sacramento, there isn’t a plan for a new arena anymore, not after the Maloofs screwed that up by not agreeing to pay for pre-development costs last spring.

To his credit, Hansen says he doesn’t want to be predatory. He says that he just wants to be in position to attract a team when the team has made the decision to relocate. I also like that he has said he will “aggressively” pursue options for Seattle. Given their sorry condition, the Kings have to be on top of his wish list.

Instead of port concerns and traffic concerns and taxpayer concerns, I’m looking forward to talking about the Kings’ roster on the “Kevin Calabro Show”.

I’m looking forward to watching DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette and, gulp, even Isaiah Thomas in the 2012-13 season, which figures to be their last in Sacramento.

I’m even starting to take a look at NBA mock drafts to see who the Sonics, I mean, the Kings should take with the fifth overall pick in next week’s draft. North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes is the most likely choice.

If you go to the Kings’ website now, believe me, you’ll be glad you did. You can vote on the 18 finalists to become Kings’ dancers. Voting ends on Sunday.

It might be cruel and uncool to hover like a vulture, even in print, but what the hell — If it’s not going to work out in Sacramento, might as well bring the Kings to Seattle.

My 8-year-olds love the NBA. I want them to have a team to root for in Seattle like I did when I was their age. I want them to wear DeMarcus Cousins jerseys and throw out their Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook jerseys.

News flash: my kids just came downstairs and were thrilled to see the sticker on the coffee table: “Bring Home Our Seattle SuperSonics”.

Bring them home indeed.

Jim Moore also writes for his website, www.jimmoorethego2guy.com, and the Kitsap Sun every Monday. You can reach him at jimmoorethego2guy@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.

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Let’s hurry up with Chris Hansen’s arena plan