Steve Ballmer backs Chris Hansen as investor in Seattle’s NBA search

6/14/12 in NBA   |   BrianMaddock   |   1429 respect

The Seattle SuperSonics rooters used to be one of the rowdiest and dedicated NBA fans. However, once the franchise moved after 41 years in Seattle, they couldn’t help but wish the worst for the relocated Oklahoma City Thunders. The revelation that the Oklahoma City Thunders had made it to the Playoffs Finals was like salt to their wounds. As understanding as their situation may be, we still hope that they may be able to turn around that negative energy into something constructive as the Hansen Group’s relentless efforts to bring an NBA team back to Seattle made an initial progress last month with a rough draft on the new arena plans.
Now Chris Hansen has another heavy-weight business partner, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, behind the venture to seek an NBA team for Seattle.  Steve Ballmer’s inclusion in the venture is understandable he is a well-known basketball enthusiast who made regular appearances at the SuperSonics games. When the franchise was being moved to Oklahoma City in 2008, Steve Ballmer relentlessly tried to maintain the franchise’s roots in Seattle.  Steve Ballmer even tried to meet the new franchise owners’ demands for building nearly half a million dollar arena through public funding by presenting a proposal along with other prominent Seattle businessmen to repair and restore KeyArena.
Chris Hansen’s plan for the acquisition of a new NBA team to fill a $490 million new arena in SoDo neighborhood may have sparked old memories, since Steve Ballmer is ready to cooperate every step of the way with the major shares holder in the venture. Steve Ballmer’s admission in the venture will bring up the total partners to 10. Steve Ballmer will not only invest in the venture, but he wills still assist in the acquisition of an NBA team for Seattle.
Following last month’s memorandum of understanding between the major shares holder, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, Chris Hansen found it only appropriate to inform them in a letter on Wednesday that he had found other investors.
"While it was my intention to wait until the local investor group was fully assembled before making any announcement,’ read Chris Hansen’s letter, “given the intense community interest and requests from the city and county councils, three members of my investment group have agreed to come forward at this time.”
Other prominent investors in the venture include Erik and Peter Nordstrom, both familiar with investing in sports franchise as their families owned the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks from 1976-1988. Both investors will play a role similar to Steve Ballmer’s share in the venture.
"These three gentlemen, like me, are committed to operating the arena and NBA franchise in a way that represents and upholds the values of our community," expressed Chris Hansen, emphasizing on the understanding he had developed with the other three investors. "They appreciate the role the Sonics played in this community for more than 40 years and see this venture as an opportunity to bring that civic asset back to our community.”
The venture seeks a $200 million investment by the city and state through thirty-year bonds, while the Hansen Group will provide the rest of $290 million. The Hansen group will also fund all environmental studies and construction expense including overruns for the venture. Any franchise moving to Seattle will not be able to relocate for at least 30-years.
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