SEATTLE – The corner of 36th and Horton hasn’t changed much over the years. It’s still a gritty spot, nestled between Lake Washington and neighborhoods to the South.
For Chris Hansen, it was home.
“A lot of childhood friends, I played tag or hide and seek with went along on the wrong path,” said Hansen on Wednesday, talking about what it was like to grow up on the block in a single parent household. The crime, and street gangs, took a toll. “It caused my mom to move out of the neighborhood.”
That’s why Hansen says he relates to a program that didn’t exist during his childhood days.
“Two blocks from my house was like the Black Gangster Disciple headquarters effectively,” he told a crowd at the A Plus Foundation breakfast in Downtown Seattle, shortly before making a big assist.
WATCH: Full interview with Chris Hansen (RAW)
The program, which helps at-risk youth with stable education, leadership, and an outlet for sports, was on the verge of eviction. A South Seattle developer had told founder Tavio Hobson he had to move his program out.
Hobson has been building the program which he says engages kids through sports. “A Plus loops in education and mentoring so they can be successful long after their athletic careers have ended.”
The Seattle Arena investor and basketball nut, after all, had some extra space down in SoDo after the NBA rejected his planned purchase of the Kings franchise last year. The project, under environmental review, has slowed down as a result.
“It was natural for me to get involved very, very close to home,” said Hansen as he pledged to donate a 10,000 square foot parcel on 1st Avenue South to A Plus.
It will serve, pending city permitting, as the headquarters for the organization. Hobson says he hopes to install classrooms, and a basketball court by years end.
“Someone is going to be playing basketball in SoDo next year,” says Hansen.
He added that it is not a sign he’s giving up on his project. “I don't think you should read anything into that, except we don't have a basketball team playing there this year. We're supporters of APlus, and have some space down there.”
Hansen says he’s not interested in adjusting the Memorandum of Understanding with Seattle and King County, and will try to be “accommodative” if the NHL expressing interest in bringing a team here.
However, he said, “I'm not going to buy a hockey team, safe to say.”
For now, the kids will call the land home.