SEATTLE — Efforts to bring the NBA back to Seattle took a giant step forward in a revised arena deal announced Tuesday, with investor Chris Hansen agreeing to kick in more money for transportation improvements near a proposed new arena, personally guaranteeing the city’s debt — and offering to buy everyone a beer.
The plan for the $490 million arena, which could also host an NHL team, represents the best shot at bringing the NBA back to Seattle. The SuperSonics ended their 41-year run here in 2008 and skipped town for Oklahoma City, where they became the Thunder.
Though formal votes are still required, Tuesday’s announcement effectively gave Hansen, a San Francisco hedge-fund manager, and his fellow investors, including Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Peter and Erik Nordstrom, of the department store clan, the green light to begin shopping for an NBA team.
The deal calls for $200 million in public financing to be paid back by arena-related taxes and rent. Under new terms announced by the City Council, Hansen would double to $30 million the reserves required to be kept on hand in case the arena’s finances don’t perform as expected.
Should the reserve run dry, Hansen would cover the balance himself. He agreed to be independently audited to assure that he’s worth at least $300 million.
— The Associated Press