City Hall

Afternoon Fizz: Hansen, On KUOW: NBA Opponents "Hypocritical"

By Erica C. Barnett July 20, 2012

On KUOW's "The Conversation" earlier this afternoon, prospective arena investor Chris Hansen said arena opponents who oppose the plan because it involves a public subsidy for fabulously rich private sports teams are "hypocritical" and "intellectually dishonest."

His reasoning, while not directed at any specific critic, should be familiar to anyone who followed the 2008 flap over city council member Nick Licata's comment that sports teams bring "close to zero" cultural value to the city: If you believe in subsidizing fine arts, like McCaw or Benaroya Hall, you're a hypocrite if you don't also believe in subsidizing sports, because "art is up to the interpretation of the individual."

"It’s a little bit hypocritical, intellectually dishonest, to say that something they don’t have the personal taste for doesn’t [merit] public funds, but the ones they support, that’s fine," Hansen said, adding that subsidized-sports opponents "do have an obligation to at least not be hypocritical in [their] response."

Hansen also noted in the brief interview that Seattle will get the majority of the benefit from the arena, at the expense of areas outside the city. "There is a little bit of substitution" of one sports team for another, he said, with about 65 percent of fans expected to come from outside Seattle.

And he said he was confident that, even if he or one of his investors took a financial hit, the others would step in to cover the shortfall. Not that he thinks that's going to happen.

"I wouldn’t be doing this and risking this type of capital, both for my own commitment and my own responsibility, if I didn’t think I could do it," Hansen said.

If one of the partners did run into financial trouble, though, "the others would be interested in protecting the interest that they'd invested and they wouldn't want to lose their money or default just because somebody else is not living up to their expectations."
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