SEATTLE – Seattle Arena investor Chris Hansen reiterated his commitment to the city Friday, after one of his biggest financial partners has apparently moved on.
Steve Ballmer acknowledged earlier in the day that he has entered into an agreement to purchase the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers.
"First, I would like to congratulate Steve Ballmer on his apparent successful bid for the Los Angeles Clippers. Steve's passion for basketball and commitment to the NBA will make him a great owner and strong asset for the league," said Hansen in a statement. "I would also like to assure Seattle fans that my remaining partners and I remain committed to bringing the NBA back to Seattle. The environmental review process for the Seattle Arena is nearing completion and we will soon be in a strong position to attract a franchise back to the Emerald City."
Related: Donald Sterling ruled 'mentally unfit', can't prevent sale
Hansen had been teaming with Ballmer and other minority partners to build a new NBA/NHL arena in Seattle, and last year, had reached an agreement to purchase the Sacramento Kings franchise. That deal was ultimately rejected by NBA owners.
Ballmer released a statement Friday after signing documents on the Clippers transaction:
"I will be honored to have my name submitted to the NBA Board of Governors for approval as the next owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. I love basketball. And I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers continue to win – and win big – in Los Angeles. L.A. is one of the world’s great cities – a city that embraces inclusiveness, in exactly the same way that the NBA and I embrace inclusiveness. I am confident that the Clippers will in the coming years become an even bigger part of the community. I thank Shelly Sterling for her willingness to entrust the Clippers franchise to me, and I am grateful to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and his colleagues for working collaboratively with me throughout this process."
It has been widely reported that the price tag for the Clippers sale is $2 billion.
The NBA says it is still planning on holding a Board of Governors meeting next Tuesday. NBA Spokesman Mike Bass issued his own statement:
"Commissioner Silver has consistently said the preferred outcome to the Clippers proceeding would be a voluntary sale of the team. Shelly Sterling advised the NBA last night an agreement had been reached with Steve Ballmer, and the NBA advisory/finance committee met via conference call this morning to discuss these developments. We await the submission of necessary documentation from Mrs. Sterling. In the meantime, the June 3 special meeting of the NBA Board of Governors remains as scheduled."
Ballmer's approval as owner would mean that two former Microsoft employees would own NBA franchises. Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen also owns the Portland Trailblazers. Both men would likely be strong advocates for returning basketball to Seattle at some point.