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Seattle City Council Votes Against Giving Chris Hansen Area to Build New Arena

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 3, 2016

KeyArena, which hosts music and sports events in Seattle, is seen from the Space Needle, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

The chances of a new arena being built in Seattle took a hit Monday when the Seattle City Council voted against a plan to give entrepreneur Chris Hansen part of Occidental Avenue South, which runs within the proposed site.

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reported the proposal lost by a 5-4 vote. He noted the Memorandum of Understanding will remain in place through November 2017 but added the latest developments mean "odds of a new deal being struck by then seem remote."

The Seattle Times provided a statement from Mayor Ed Murray about the failed vote regarding the Sodo District arena plan: "[Tuesday]'s council vote makes it less likely that the NBA will return to the city of Seattle."

Meanwhile, Hansen posted a statement on SonicsArena.com about taking some time to think about what the next step should be:

Today's City Council vote was disappointing but we don't believe it is the end of the road in our quest to bring the NBA and NHL back to Seattle. We know all the fans who have stood solidly by us these past years share our disappointment but it is important that we all stay focused on our shared goal.

We now need to take a little time to step back and evaluate our options, better understand the council's concerns and find a path forward. We will keep you posted.

Another option for Seattle is renovating KeyArena, which formerly housed the Seattle SuperSonics and still remains home to the WNBA's Seattle Storm. Renovations to bring it up to standard for the NBA and NHL are estimated at $285 million, according to the Seattle Times.

Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who was opposed to giving Hansen the space needed to build the arena, told the outlet they may do a "cost-benefit analysis" to see if the KeyArena plan would work.

Former Sonics play-by-play broadcaster Kevin Calabro views the decision as a major setback that could cost Seattle five years in terms of getting an NBA team back:

Kevin Calabro @KevinCalabro

Wish I could say I'm shocked. I'm not. Interested now on what the plan is moving forward. Imo this sets NBA back at least 60 months.

Eric Mandel of MyNorthwest.com noted Monday's vote was the final key hurdle before Seattle could have given Hansen a Master Use Permit, giving him five years to find an NBA team to bring in.

Alas, the vote sends Hansen's group back to the drawing board and leaves the city without a timetable to see the return of the NBA and/or the NHL.

Seattle's fans are among the most passionate in sports, as witnessed during every home game for the Seahawks in recent years. Both of those other major sports leagues would benefit from having a team there, but it appears that's on indefinite hold while everybody involved reviews the options.

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