Chris Hansen, the hedge-fund manager who proposes a sports arena in Sodo, has donated $20,000 to support Seattle Proposition 1, a tax and car-fee increase for city bus service.
The $490 million arena, intended to attract a Sonics basketball and an NHL hockey team, would be built at First Avenue South and South Holgate Street, an area in need of transportation improvements. Currently, the pavement resembles a moguls course and thousands of fans would cross train tracks. Buses tend to be stuck in congestion following baseball games nearby, and routes could change when the Highway 99 tunnel opens, maybe three years from now. Sound Transit operates three rail stops that are each two-thirds of a mile from the arena site.
Hansen, who grew up in Seattle, didn’t immediately return a phone call to his office at Valiant Capital Management in San Francisco. Possible motivations could include cementing rapport with pro-transit government officials, and the downtown business establishment. “He wants to be civically engaged,” said Proposition 1 campaign consultant Sandeep Kaushik. In March, Hansen’s Arena Co gave $20,000 to a county transit-and-roads campaign. “He just wants to express his commitment and sees it as a good thing,” Kaushik said.
The measure would boost sales taxes in Seattle by 0.1 percent and car-tab fees by $60 — methods often criticized as “regressive” because the costs fall hardest on low-income workers. Seattle would use the $45 million annual income to prevent Metro cuts, add capacity to crowded commute buses, and boost frequency on crosstown lines.
Hansen’s contribution, reported Monday, adds to the rising treasury at Yes For Seattle Transit, which has now collected nearly $238,000. Ballots for the mail-in election were sent last week, and due Nov. 4.
“Seattle will have a basketball team,” he told The Seattle Times this spring, even though Microsoft retiree Steve Ballmer’s recent $2 billion purchase of the NBA’s Clippers kept them in Los Angeles. The arena proposal would combine $290 million private money with $200 million government funds.
Here’s a screen grab of the largest Proposition 1 donations, reported to the state Public Disclosure Commission: