Hedge Fund Manager In Seattle Arena Deal

May 17 2012 | 9:54am ET

Hedge fund manager Chris Hansen is a step closer to his dream of bringing professional basketball back to his hometown, Seattle.

The San Francisco-based Hansen's ArenaCo signed a memorandum of understanding with the city and King County yesterday. Under the terms of the deal, Hansen's group will contribute up to $290 million towards building the $490 million arena in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood, as well as paying as much as $500 million to buy a National Basketball Association team to play in it.

For its part, the city of Seattle would pay up to $100 million to buy the land the arena sits on from Hansen, and between $15 million and $80 million to buy the completed arena from him—depending on whether Seattle is able to lure a National Hockey League franchise, as well. King County would contribute between $5 million and $20 million.

Both governments would use general obligation bonds to cover their portions.

"It really is what we promised," Hansen, who runs Valiant Capital Management, said. "It's good for the city, it protects taxpayers and it includes protections that the team will stay here," no small thing for a town that lost its SuperSonics to Oklahoma City in 2008.

The MOA still requires the approval of both the city and county councils, where some concern and opposition has already surfaced, primarily over traffic congestion in the neighborhood. And, of course, Hansen has to find a team to buy.

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