Emerald City Still Dimly Shining

Harsh economic times are affecting construction projects across the nation – but the dream goes on for “Downtown” Freddy Brown.

Brown, the heralded former team captain for the Seattle SuperSonics, and business partner Dave Bean of Wongdoody Communications have an unquenchable desire to build a $1 billion sports, entertainment and exposition facility in Seattle.

The project was announced at a news conference April 1. The two men – collectively known as the company B2 – said they had financiers committed to the development and three undisclosed locations for the downtown facility. The project aimed to lure an NBA or NHL franchise to the city.

But Seattle already had a wealth of public facilities and civic leaders were committed to renovating KeyArena with public funding. Seattle developer Matt Griffin said the B2 project would “make life more complicated,” according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Everything remains the same. B2 is still looking for private investors for the project, which Brown and Bean would likely want to place near Qwest and Safeco fields, the paper reported. Bean said things are quietly progressing.

“We made a decision that once [Seattle Mayor Greg] Nickels went down the path of trying to salvage KeyArena with public funding, it was apparent that whole dynamic put us in a competitive situation,” Bean told the Post-Intelligencer. “So we chose to say nothing publicly for a while. But we’re still on our track.

“Our vision is this should be privately financed and treated as business, not a publicly subsidized entity.”

Bean acknowledged the struggling economy hasn’t helped, and Brown acknowledged that the exit of the SuperSonics has left a bad taste in the mouths of residents, which doesn’t help the mission. Plus, the NBA and the NHL would need to be courted by seeing the arena come to fruition.

“We knew from the beginning this wasn’t an easy task, but we are probably even more excited about hockey now that we threw that out there,” Brown told the paper. “That’s drawn a very positive response.”