Ballmer and Nordstrom Brothers’ New Triangle Offense May Get NBA’s Attention
Yesterday a buzz started building that something new was afoot in the attempt to bring the NBA back to Seattle via a new stadium. Insiders were whispering about a game-changer. This morning, it’s clear what that is: Hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen revealed three big investor names on KJR Sports Radio: Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, and Erik and Peter Nordstrom.
Geekwire explains why Ballmer might have wanted to let Hansen take lead on the project.
In retrospect, Mayor Mike McGinn’s visit with the NBA’s David Stern doesn’t look so hat-in-hand, though Hansen’s people claimed no knowledge of “Loose Cannon” McGinn’s plans. King County Executive Dow Constantine, an early political supporter of the effort, released this statement: “The names of Steve Ballmer and Peter and Eric Nordstrom add additional strength and credibility to this proposal, and even greater assurance of the financial stability of the investment team that is working to bring the Sonics back to Seattle.”
“Financial stability” is the key phrase in that statement, since the new stadium plan has been getting pushback, notably from the Municipal League of King County, who released a broadside of criticisms largely focused on financing assumptions and congestion mitigation issues. As summarized in the Seattle Times, the League’s argument referenced the speed at which KeyArena became “unsuitable” for NBA economics:
KeyArena didn’t deteriorate, the report says, so much as it was no longer big enough to accommodate the space deemed necessary for the new standard of arenas. If a region has to replace its arena every 10 to 15 years, it suggests that the new arena’s improvement fund should require annual deposits of at least $20 million. Are investors prepared, the League asks, to provide funding at that level?
If the investor group include Steve Ballmer and the Nordstroms, the answer to that question is suddenly less worrisome for people who’d like to see the Sonics return.
That leaves the concern, still, of the Port of Seattle and Mariners that two stadiums is company and three is a crowd. Yet the Port and the Mariners have different interests, I think–while the Mariners are fighting for market share, the Port may simply be looking for help (in addition to the $73 million in tax revenue they project to receive in 2012) paying for SoDo transportation infrastructure that is needed whether there’s a new stadium or not.