Chris Hansen: Seattle will lose money if arena built somewhere else

Jul 26, 2012, 1:28 PM | Updated: 6:08 pm
Chris Hansen says Seattle would lose money if an arena is built elsewhere. ( photo)

From combating misinformation surrounding out-of-date reports to keeping up the positive spirits of basketball fans, Chris Hansen has been busy.

It’s not all for naught, because Hansen says that if he doesn’t build a state-of-the-art arena in the area, someone else will. And, if it’s not in Seattle, the Emerald City will actually lose money.

Hansen told “Bob and Groz” on Thursday that Seattle taxpayers shouldn’t think of the city investment in the arena as their tax dollars going into something in which they wouldn’t see an investment returned. Instead, taxpayers should think of it as the city giving up some bonding capacity for a period of time.

As the net revenue of the arena goes up, the City of Seattle would receive more bonding capacity over time. Those extra funds could then be used on investments in which they see little to no financial return, like schools and roadways.

Yet, if Hansen’s plan were to be voted down and an eager Eastside city like Bellevue picked up a similar plan, it would be those folks that see the return on their arena investment.

“If the arena is built in another tax jurisdiction, it’s true, you’re not putting up $200 million, but the general fund will receive a hit as Seattleites leave the city and go spend money somewhere else,” Hansen says.

It’s important that the region has a new facility somewhere, he says, and if it’s not in SoDo it will go elsewhere.

Hansen believes people might be having a hard time wrapping their heads around the economic impact an arena would have in Seattle. It might not be big when looking at the state or the Pacific Northwest region as a whole, he claims, but we’ll see it on a more micro level.

“When you boil it down to Seattle or King County, and people are traveling and bring their tax dollars here and we estimate that 70 percent of NBA fans come from outside the city limits and somewhere north of 30 percent come from outside the county — that’s a lot of tax dollars being redirected here.”

Were the Bellevue SuperSonics to playing on the Eastside, that tax revenue would be redirected to that location instead.

The Eastside was again top of mind after rumors surfaced that hockey legend Wayne Gretzky was in town meeting with officials in Bellevue about the possibility of bringing the NHL to the Eastside. Gretzky’s agent has now refuted those claims, but it raised questions as to whether Hansen’s proposal could be successful without an NHL team.

“It definitely can, but it’s not our plan,” Hansen says.

While the news of Gretzky’s appearance had Twitter buzzing in the Seattle area, Hansen didn’t want to get distracted as a vote on his proposal approaches.

The King County Council is expected to vote on Hansen’s memorandum of understanding as early as Monday. If it’s approved, Hansen says he’ll be willing to make adjustments, but he doesn’t plan on rewriting the whole deal.

In the video below, Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby share some thoughts on their conversation with Hansen.

Bob, Groz and Tom

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Chris Hansen: Seattle will lose money if arena built somewhere else