I understand the the position the NBA and NHL are in when it comes to having their sports entertainment franchises in the Seattle media market. It doesn't make good business sense to commit to words or deeds here while there isn't an arena. For the potential public/private partnerships it doesn't make good business sense to just build an arena without a commitment from the leagues.
What has been accepted by both leagues, when it comes to Seattle at least, is that KeyArena could serve as a temporary home while a new arena is constructed. That's after Seattle and King County councils vote in favor of the plan, only after careful consideration of the EIS, after DPD finishes the EIS. That whole thing is not possible without the councils of Seattle and King County considering and voting to commit to an actionable plan.
As a potential customer, it is disappointing to see the lethargic pace, and delays this process has had. Some of that pacing is Chris Hansen's responsibility, some of it is on the DPD and its subcontractors. My understanding is that both leagues are also disappointed and frustrated, and it shows. It is no wonder that the commissioners of both leagues are not showing too much enthusiasm for what still is nothing without the afore mentioned EIS.
Outside of Seattle, in Tukwilla and Bellevue, rumored arena sites would also need some level of public commitment, according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. They would also require an EIS. Potential competitors with Chris Hansen looking at the same locations that Hansen has reviewed and discarded may or may not be willing to take a financial risk on par with what Chris Hansen already has in buying land and permitting. They look like they are a couple years away. They also do not have KeyArena as a temporary home. Anybody that knows anything different hasn't stepped forward yet, but they will, and soon.
Back inside Seattle
This is the puzzle Chris Hansen has ALMOST solved to this point. It is a public/private commitment without having to actually start building an arena. His plan is to have everything shovel ready, committed and waiting on the NBA. He has identified a site in Seattle and partnered with the city so that they would have a vested interest in participating. Seattle stands to completely lose all the revenue from a new arena and limited support and purpose of KeyArena if the arena goes somewhere else.
A location just outside of the Seattle would be a loss for the city financially. The substitution factor so many economists site as not much of an impact on the local economy is true enough when a franchise is completely in or out of a market. If it's not here at all then people would likely spend their entertainment dollar on something else locally. But when the difference is between the new arena in Seattle or in neighboring Tukwilla or Bellevue those dollars leave Seattle.
The arena haters in Seattle might want to remember that one time construction and ongoing dedicated taxes go to the city. This includes the new 0.1% sales tax for metro transit. Taxes leave with it, or arrive from neighboring cities coming to the new arena. It is in Seattle's best financial interest to be shovel ready before somebody right outside of the city beats them to it. Tukwilla or Bellevue would see that money go to their city if Seattle doesn't get its act together, that's a fact.
Where will the sales tax go when fashionable people purchase fine athletic apparel? Seattle, Tukwilla or Bellevue?
The Edge of Tomorrow in Seattle
It is my understanding that the DPD will soon have a timeline of when they expect to complete their work on the EIS. It seems everyday for almost two years the talk starts only to have the clock reset the same point in the timeline, waiting on the EIS. Adam Silver, Gary Bettman, Chris Hansen, Ed Murray, Dow Constantine, Seattle and King County councils, you, me, Chris Daniels, Aaron Lavine, Geoff Baker,… we are all waiting for it. The steps here are the FEIS from DPD, followed by review and vote by Seattle and King County councils.
It's frustrating, no question about it. So, let's remember who has the ball (City of Seattle), and who has a play to make (DPD needs to finish the EIS), and do not leap past the city and county councils to press the NBA and NHL on what is at this point a hypothetical question. There is still no long term ArenaSolution for the NBA and NHL to deal consider. That's a fact.
The market is large and affluent enough to be very attractive to both leagues. although things are significantly different now than they were in 2008, the basic questions remain.
Where will it be located?
When will we be shovel ready?
Until those two questions are answered with something other than, "probably Seattle", and "soon", there isn't a point in asking the leagues over and over again when or how the NBA and NHL would enter this market.