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Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

Topic: sonics arena

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May 16, 2013 at 7:27 AM

NBA in Seattle: Our day will come… at Seattle Center

The morning after hearing that the NBA has rejected Chris Hansen’s offer to buy the Sacramento Kings, I’m listening to the song “Our Day Will Come.” You can listen along on SoundCloud below.

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Like I said before in my column last week, “Sonics fans, it’s time to give your heart a break,” I believe that the Sonics are coming back to Seattle, eventually. I want an NBA team back in the city.

But I’m relieved this specific bid didn’t work out because Sodo is the wrong place to put an arena. The rightful home of the Sonics isn’t just Seattle, it’s Seattle Center. To take a future NBA franchise away from the Center is removing the Center’s anchor tenant.

A deal could be worked out for a future NBA team to play at an arena built on the site of the Center’s Memorial Stadium, which Seattle Schools wants to sell to the city. That would allow a team to play at KeyArena while a new stadium is built.

But it’s on the city to come up with a deal that would make it more attractive for Hansen’s investment group to build an arena at the Center instead of Sodo, where Hansen says construction costs are higher. I also said in the column that I would support public financing of an arena at Memorial Stadium because it would benefit Seattle Center, a public asset. (Note: I speak only for myself here, and not the editorial board.)

What I didn’t mention in my earlier column is that I cannot stomach the gentrification of Sodo. I don’t believe that Chris Hansen wants to gentrify Sodo, which he said in an Opinion Northwest Q&A last week, “Chris Hansen on Sonics arena: ‘Our vision would not look or feel anything like L.A. Live.’ “ But there are other real estate interests who do want to turn Sodo into Belltown.

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May 9, 2013 at 6:12 AM

Chris Hansen on Sonics arena: ‘Our vision would not look or feel anything like L.A. Live’

Chris Hansen (Photo by Erika Schultz / Seattle Times)

Chris Hansen (Photo by Erika Schultz / Seattle Times)

Chris Hansen, the man leading the investment group to bring the Sonics back to Seattle at a new arena, said he has no intention of replicating L.A. Live in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood.

Hansen got on the phone with me while I was researching my Thursday column, “Sonics fans, it’s time to give your heart a break.” In the column, I write that I want The Squatch back. I know an NBA team will be coming back to Seattle, eventually. But I don’t want a team to come back to a new arena in Sodo.

The rightful home of the Sonics isn’t just Seattle, it’s Seattle Center. Memorial Stadium, the area in the Center that Seattle Schools wants to sell to the city, is the ideal place to build a new NBA arena, and the city should put together a financially attractive deal for Hansen to consider. This sounds like a job for a new mayor, and we’ll be electing a new one this year.

Here are edited excerpts from our interview, in which he talked about L.A. Live, the rumor that he is out to gentrify Sodo and whether he will endorse a candidate for mayor of Seattle.

Me: I read the front page Seattle Times news story about L.A. Live so I just want to ask you directly: Do you want to build an L.A. Live in Sodo?

Hansen: I didn’t think that was a fair presentation of what we’re trying to do. No matter how clear we try to be, people keep taking it a different way and I’m not exactly sure why.

I think a couple things I would say is one, we plan to do something on a much smaller scale on only the block north of the arena site. We only own three properties there and we plan to do something that is much different from L.A. Live. We want to have a gathering spot for our fans and other fans from the stadium district but it would be something more in line with Seattle. I think you would expect it would look much more like an extension of Pioneer Square and it would consist of local restauranteurs and merchants. … We said that over and over and over again, we would like to build an entertainment area but it’s much smaller. Our vision would not look or feel anything like L.A. Live.

L.A. Live is meant for L.A. It fits their market. Kansas City Light and Power is much more the look and feel [of what we want to do]. It has a covered atrium, is used for a gathering spot, has more local merchants, it’s brick, fits the city.

I read your last article…

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April 26, 2013 at 6:18 AM

Sonics arena aerial maps: Comparing Sodo to the L.A. Live neighborhood

In Friday’s guest column, Dave Gering took on the desire of some city leaders to build an entertainment area like L.A. Live in Sodo around the proposed Sonics arena. Here is Monday’s Seattle Times news story about L.A. Live and a recent trip the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce recently took to visit the complex.

I agree with Gering. We already have a great entertainment area to support a sports arena. It’s called lower Queen Anne. There are bars, restaurants, Seattle Center and parking garages. This neighborhood was abandoned first by the Sonics when they moved to Oklahoma, and again when the city of Seattle chose to strike a deal with Chris Hansen’s investment group to build a new arena in Sodo.

Here are some aerial map screenshots Gering grabbed from Google maps. Here is L.A. Live:

L.A. Live neighborhood (Screenshot from Google Maps)

L.A. Live neighborhood (Screenshot from Google Maps)

Here is Sodo:

Sodo (Screenshot from Google Maps)

Sodo (Screenshot from Google Maps)

Here is lower Queen Anne:

Queen Anne neighborhood in Seattle (Screenshot from Google Maps)

Queen Anne neighborhood in Seattle (Screenshot from Google Maps)

Hansen’s reasoning for choosing Sodo is that it would be cheaper to build from scratch than to tear down KeyArena first and build a new arena in the same spot. That, and because Sodo offers far greater return from a a real-estate investment perspective.

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