Thursday, 23 February 2017
Last updated 4 min ago
Feb 10 2012 | 2:41am ET
Hedge fund founder Christopher Hansen is working with his hometown to bring professional basketball back to Seattle.
The Valiant Capital Management chief, who has been working since at least year on plans to build a new sports arena in Seattle, has been working with city officials for the past eight months on his plan. The extent of the city's cooperation with Hansen, who lives in San Francisco, became clear after the Seattle Times won the release of documents from the city last week.
Hansen is promising to build the arena with little or no help from the taxpayers. The issue of public funding is a touchy one in Seattle; the city lost its last National Basketball Association team, the SuperSonics, in 2008 after the city and state refused to help pay for either a new arena or for the refurbishment of the Sonics' home, KeyArena.
"I really appreciate it and look forward to making this happen in Seattle," Hansen wrote in an e-mail in June to two city officials. "I genuinely mean that and am confident that with a little effort and creativity we can find a solution that meets our needs and the city's/state's desire to get a team back to Seattle without a large public outlay."
"It's a pretty substantial commitment that would have to be made by the investors," Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn told the Associated Press. But Hansen has already made something of a commitment, having in December bought at least one large property near Safeco Field, the home of baseball's Seattle Mariners, and having reached out to nearby property owners.
It isn't clear where the team would come from, with the former Sonics now safely ensconced in Oklahoma City as the Thunder. But the documents show that Seattle is following the situation in Sacramento, Calif., which is facing a March 1 deadline to produce a plan for a new arena for the city's Kings.
Hansen's planned arena could also house a National Hockey League team; NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said that Seattle would be an attractive new city for the league.