Chris Hansen needs game changer if he wants to climb back in Seattle arena race

With the Seattle City Council getting closer and closer to approving the renovation of KeyArena, the Sodo project needs to come up with some big money or delay the vote until it does.

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Unless he can cut a $2 billion check like Steve Ballmer, the latest addition to a group hoping to build a new arena in the city’s Sodo District won’t be the game-changer it needs.

But adding Aaron Pickus last week as a media liaison does signal that entrepreneur Chris Hansen and his Sodo project aren’t going away. In fact, it’s clear the Sodo group intends to intensify recent messaging efforts about its plan deserving another look.

On Monday, the Seattle City Council’s Select Committee on Civic Arenas meets for the first time since being handed a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a $600 million plan to renovate KeyArena.

That committee, co-chaired by Debora Juarez and Bruce Harrell, is overseeing the council’s review of the renovation deal between Oak View Group (OVG) and the city. And that’s the only proposal the council appears prepared to look at.

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Councilmember Tim Burgess, appearing last week on the City Inside/Out program on, was asked, by host Brian Callahan, whether Hansen’s project could get a “fair shake” and fresh look while the council reviews the KeyArena deal.

“No,’’ Burgess replied. “We already gave Chris Hansen a fair shake. We entered into an agreement with him. We negotiated that agreement with him several years ago and it had a list of prerequisites. One of them being ‘You need to get an NBA team awarded to Seattle before this project can advance.’ That hasn’t happened. So, we’re looking at KeyArena now.’’

Hansen’s group wants the city to revisit a May 2016 council vote not to sell him part of Occidental Avenue South to make his project “shovel ready’’ to attract teams and investors. This year, he offered to drop a public funding component from his original 2012 deal with the city and go all-private.

Hansen more recently offered to renovate KeyArena into a downsized music and concert facility if his Sodo arena gets built. But such amendments do not constitute a new proposal, meaning the 2012 agreement remains and will expire Dec. 3 without that missing NBA team.

The city wants the council to ratify the KeyArena deal immediately upon expiration of Hansen’s pact. It’s widely expected…

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