The best media write up goes to... Goldy at The Stranger (where the only thing closeted over there are the hockey fans).
"If it was about making money I would have preferred to have just stayed under my rock and have no one on this earth know about me," millionaire hedge-fund manager and would-be Sonics owner Chris Hansen says about his quest to bring big league basketball back to Seattle. "Regardless of whether the NBA is a good investment or not, my business is a better investment," insists Hansen. "I'm able to earn higher returns in my existing business with a minimal level of public disclosure and opinion about how I should do things."
So if it's not about the money, and if Hansen is so obviously uncomfortable in the public spotlight, why the hell would he invest up to $800 million in building a new NBA/NHL arena and bringing a couple of franchises to town?
"I'm really passionate about basketball," says Hansen, "really passionate about it here in Seattle." You know, hoop dreams and all that. Dreams that are one step closer to reality today after Hansen signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with county and city officials.
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Once the city and county councils embody the MOU in ordinance, Hansen's group will proceed with the design, permitting, and environmental reviews necessary to get the project moving. "It will take 12 to 15 months before we can put a shovel in the ground," Hansen told me in explaining the urgency for the councils to move quickly in evaluating and approving the MOU. "The farther along in the process, the better position we'll be in" should a franchise become available says Hansen.
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A born and raised Sonics fan and a graduate of Seattle's Roosevelt High School, this would be the culmination of a lifelong dream. Lot's of kids fantasize about playing in the big leagues, but "when I was five foot four and starting high school, I knew those dreams weren't in the cards," admits Hansen, who says that it was during college that his dreams of someday owning the Sonics started to take form. "I thought if I worked really hard in my life, maybe I would have the opportunity to achieve it someday," says Hansen, "and once I became a little more educated and sophisticated about the way these things work ... I could see the path to this becoming a reality."
Becoming fabulously wealthy didn't hurt either.
As for the remaining obstacles to achieving his dream, Hansen remains relentlessly if understatedly confident. "Seattle's at the top of the list in terms of places where the NBA would like to have a franchise," says Hansen. He refused to speculate where that franchise might come from, saying it wouldn't be appropriate, but allowed that "everybody understands the opportunities out there." (Sacramento, wink, wink.) Hansen says the NHL also views Seattle as the most attractive market it's not currently in, having the entire US Pacific Northwest to itself, and serving excess demand in Vancouver with an arena conveniently accessible via heavy rail.
Read the rest here at The Stranger, Hoop Dreams: Passion, Not Money, Driving Deal to Bring NBA Back to Seattle