Hansen’s group gets ‘green light’ to build Seattle arena

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Calling it a “major milestone in our journey to bring the NBA and NHL back to Seattle,” the group trying to build an arena in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood trumpeted today’s release of the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement.

The group, led by investor Chris Hansen, considers the document “a green light for us to continue moving forward to finish the remaining work needed for the final construction permits.”

And while it had everyone’s attention, Hansen’s group also took “the opportunity to reiterate that we remain 100% supportive of the NHL returning to Seattle and playing in the Arena — and are completely open to the prospect of that occurring prior to the NBA. In light of recent speculation, we would just like to clarify that we have sought to be as accommodating as possible in our negotiations with potential NHL partners, with our only major requirements being that such a deal does not jeopardize the process or put the City, County, Taxpayers or us in a worse financial position.”

For Seattle mayor Ed Murray, a supporter of the arena project, the challenge now will be to broker a deal between Hansen’s group and an NHL partner. Remember that there is a competing arena project in the Seattle suburb of Tukwila, so time is of the essence.

Said Murray last month: “As I’ve said before, I stand by the [memorandum of understanding] that the city signed which requires the NBA to commit to Seattle before an arena can be built. But given what we’ve heard from the NBA, I’m open to the idea of NHL coming to Seattle first. I am ready to listen and would be willing to reconsider the MOU if there is an NHL-first proposal that pencils out for the City.”

Hansen, who’s only interested in owning an NBA team, has been working with businessman Victor Coleman to land an NHL tenant for the planned arena.

“My priority is to figure out a way to make a deal on the SoDo site,” Coleman said recently. “If for some reason that doesn’t happen, it is not going to detract us from looking at an alternative site that we have looked at and will continue to pursue if the [SoDo] site is not available…”