As was announced yesterday, the Oak View Group and the Seattle Hockey Partners will introduce a group of local investors who will be joining their quest to renovate KeyArena and bring both an NHL and NBA team back to Seattle at 11 am. As first reported by KIRO’s Mike Lewis, that group consists of David Wright, Andy Jassy, and Adrian Hanauer.
Sonics Rising can confirm that the group also includes Wright’s brother Jeff, as well as Chris and Ted Ackerley and Bensussen Deutsch & Associates CEO Jay Deutsch.
“It is with great pride that we welcome these local investors and their families to our group as we strive to secure an NHL franchise,” said Tod Leiweke, President and CEO of Seattle Hockey Partners.
The Ackerley name is one that will be familiar to Sonics fans. Chris and Ted's father Barry owned the team from 1983-2001. Chris and Ted themselves were discovered by Sonics Rising to be working with the city council on a Sonics solution back in 2016.
Adrian Hanauer is a name that many Seattle sports fans will recognize in that he is the majority owner of the Seattle Sounders FC MLS team. Ironically, by teaming up with Jerry Bruckheimer, this will be his second sports ownership group with a Hollywood producer as Morgan Creek Productions founder Joe Roth is also a Sounders owner.
The Wright name is also a familiar one in Seattle, although not in the world of sports. Howard S. Wright Companies built the Space Needle and the Washington State Coliseum, now known as... KeyArena. Howard Wright, Jr. was a founding owner of the Seattle Seahawks, bringing the franchise to town when David was six and Jeff was around nine. Howard III was an owner of the Sonics. David will serve as vice chairman of Seattle Hockey Partners. Check out Brian Robinson’s interview with him here.
Jassy is the CEO of Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s cloud computing division. Believe it or not, he is Amazon's highest paid employee. Jassy was a big supporter of Chris Hansen's Sodo arena project and is a huge sports fan.
Bensussen Deutsch & Associates, Inc. provides marketing services and customized branded merchandise solutions to Fortune 1000 enterprises, including sports teams. Jay Deutsch was named #25 on Advertising Specialty Institute’s Power 50, which ranks the most influential people in the industry, in 2017.
“Securing a future ownership group of local investors has been an area of focus as we look to build a franchise that is reflective of the Seattle community,” said lead investor David Bonderman. “Each of these local investors brings skill and experience that will continue to help us achieve our goals. In our discussions with each of these individuals it has been clear that they are all committed to securing and building a franchise that is truly Seattle centric and provides fans an amazing experience at the new Seattle Center Arena. Our efforts are directed toward a defining moment on October 2nd when we present our case to the NHL’s Executive Committee.”
You can view the announcement below.
LIVE NOW: CEO Tod Leiweke joins Mayor Jenny Durkan in announcing Arena Agreement completion and new local investors. #NHLSeattlePosted by NHLSeattle on Wednesday, September 5, 2018
The group also announced that the Arena Agreement has been completed and has been passed to the city council for consideration.
“Less than 12 months ago, we signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Seattle for the privately financed development of the new Seattle Center Arena. We are making tremendous progress and are looking forward to these next few weeks as we move into the City Council’s review of our agreements,” said Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group. “These agreements reflect tremendous hard work by all sides. This is a process that we hope will conclude shortly as we’re ready to start breaking ground on an arena that will be world class when completed.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan added:
“For decades, the Arena has been an iconic part of Seattle, and now the next generation will have an incredible arena - home to the country’s best sports teams along with the music and entertainment Seattle Center is known for. And trust me, I won’t rest until we have new team banners for our championship Seattle Storm, an NHL team and our Seattle Sonics hanging proudly.”