Gary Payton said it best — or at least Tweeted it best — late Wednesday night.
#NBAinSEATTLE That’s all I have to say!
But while the former Seattle SuperSonics all-star guard and NBA champ has become the spokesperson for bringing an NBA franchise back to Seattle, there’s one more man who will have a huge say in these long awaited matters and his name isn’t NBA Commissioner David Stern.
On Thursday, Chris Hansen, the Seattle native and San Francisco hedge fund manager, will privately reveal his news sports arena plan in a meeting with Seattle Mayor Mike McCinn according to various reports out of the Emerald City. The two sides have been working toward this goal since last June, with months of planning and preparation finally paying off. The cost of a new arena, however, is estimated at $400 million and that’s on the low side.
Buying an NBA team (insert the Sacramento Kings or New Orleans Hornets here) would increase that number to hundreds of millions more. In fact, Hansen has apparently already had talks with Stern, who professed the NBA isn’t interested in adding new teams to the league. Relocation appears the lone solution for existing Sonic fans, who will have to embrace either the Kings or Hornets as their own.
Hansen is also cognizant that dragging an existing NBA franchise away from their city is not the end goal in all of this.
That hasn’t kept thinkbigsacramento.com, the site dedicated to building “a first-class sports and entertainment facility” in Sacramento, from sending an open letter to Hansen.
The heart of the letter: Keep your hands off our Kings.
Noted. As part of the proposal, the arena unveiling would also include discussions to lure an NHL team to Seattle, but at the end of the day the writing might as well be on the wall in bright green and yellow: Hansen is here to bring back the Sonics to Seattle.
“This isn’t about Chris Hansen,” he told the Seattle Times. “This is about an NBA team and a new arena.”
“This is for the people of Seattle to decide if it fits their needs.”
So who exactly is Chris Hansen, besides the rich mystery man?
The San Francisco native, who moved to the Rainer Valley at a young age, grew up a die-hard Sonics fan and recalls, “sobbing as a child when the Sonics lost in the NBA Finals in 1978”, which turned into elation when Seattle won an NBA title the following season.
He worked as a newspaper boy, dishwasher and cook before heading off to school back in California.
A graduate of San Diego State University and the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, owning an NBA team has been a dream of Hansen’s since college and while he keeps those hoop dreams alive by unveiling his arena proposal on Thursday afternoon, the rebirth of the Sonics is in good hands.
Today, the 44-year-old Hansen serves as managing partner of Valiant Capital — which he founded in 2008 — in San Francisco, where he manages more than $3 billion in public and private investments and, according to Hansen, believes pursuing this basketball goal is more about a “civic obligation” than a financial gain.
Now this Seattle Seahawks and Sounders fan is stepping forward to invest his efforts into bringing the NBA back to the city that desperately misses their Sonics.