Hedge Fund Manager Seals Seattle Arena Deal

Sep 14 2012 | 10:43am ET

A San Francisco hedge fund manager has won approval to build a sports arena in his hometown of Seattle, to which he hopes to attract a basketball team.

Seattle's City Council this week gave its assent to the planned $490 million project, including a city contribution of $200 million, using tax revenues the building generates.

It wasn't easy to win the OK, which will formally come on Monday: Christopher Hansen, who heads Valiant Capital Management, had to accept a renegotiated memorandum of understanding that requires increased protection for taxpayers and further studies and investment in the transportation infrastructure in the neighborhood that will house the arena, which is already home to baseball's Seattle Mariners and football's Seattle Seahawks.

Under that new MOU, Hansen has personally guaranteed bond payments if arena revenues can't cover them and could have to buy the arena in 30 years for $200 million.

With the deal in hand, Hansen is now on the lookout for a team to put in his new arena.

"It means a lot to the" National Basketball Association, Hansen said. "They've been watching very close to what we're doing. I think going in they were very skeptical we would get to this point given our history in Seattle."

Hansen said that while he thought it was "conceivable" that Seattle could have a team next year, he's not holding his breath.

"I worry that people are expecting us to get this deal done and it be like magic and a team would be here this year," Hansen explained. "It's like, 'Poof and we've got a deal done and where is our team?' This is a far more difficult process."


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