Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and two members of the Nordstrom family are part of the investor group seeking to bring a National Basketball Association franchise to Seattle, San Francisco hedge fund manager Chris Hansen announced today.
In a letter to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine, Hansen identified Ballmer, who expressed interest in investing in basketball a few years ago, and Peter and Erik Nordstrom as part of his group.
“These three gentlemen, like me, are committed to operating the arena and the NBA franchise in a way that represents and upholds the values of our community. They appreciate the role the Sonics played in this community for more than 40 years and see this project as an opportunity to bring that civic asset back to our community. They also understand the unique ability of professional basketball to positively affect urban youth,” wrote Hansen.
Hansen has been criticized in recent months for a lack of transparency for not naming his local partners. The letter says the investor group is not yet fully assembled but that these individuals agreed to come forward at this time.
Other members of the Nordstrom family had been involved in an previous ownership group of the Seattle Seahawks.
Hansen wants to build a $490 million arena in Sodo, with up to $200 million in public bonds he says would be paid back by arena revenue, to host an NBA team and his ownership group hope to purchase.
McGinn and Constantine support the idea and the Seattle and Metropolitan King County councils are both vetting the proposal.