Blog Entry

Stern: Seattle return possible if new arena built

Posted on: February 7, 2012 11:00 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 11:43 pm
Is momentum building for the NBA's return to Seattle? (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver

There are basically five standards necessary to land an NBA team: a market with demonstrated interest in basketball, a super rich person willing to cut checks, a working relationship with commissioner David Stern, a building to play in, and an available franchise to poach. Absent any one of those five key features, and it becomes significantly more difficult -- if not impossible -- for a city to land itself one of the 30 NBA franchises.

The good news for Seattle: they apparently have secured three of those five.

Step one: the fanbase has never been in question, thanks to a long history of supporting the SuperSonics. Step two: the Seattle Times reported this weekend that Christopher Hansen, a hedge fund manager with beaucoup Bucks and ties to the Seattle region, is interested in landing a franchise.  

And, now, step three: Stern told the Salt Lake Tribune that he has met with Hansen and that Seattle is now officially back on the NBA's radar for a possible franchise relocation.

“We had heard reports of some interest in Seattle and the name of the person who’s associated with it is not totally unknown to me. I think he came in and I met with him, it must be a year ago. Just a general conversation; he was brought in by a mutual friend,” said Stern, during an exclusive, wide-ranging interview Monday with The Salt Lake Tribune at the league office.

“Everyone says to us, ‘Well, would you consider going back?’ Of course, if they have a building. And so that’s where it’s left. We have no involvement,” Stern said. “But we certainly are — if anyone asks us, we tell them what we know and we’re happy to talk to them. … There’s no shortage of potential sites, but the funding is a huge issue.”

Of course, the key quote there is: "If they have a building." That was one of the key deciding factors in the SuperSonics leaving for Oklahoma City to rebrand as the Thunder prior to the 2008-2009 season. KeyArena simply isn't up to the usual NBA standard, and numerous arena plans in Seattle have been floated in recent years with no firm plans emerging and a reluctance from taxpayers to foot the bill.

The Seattle Times reported Tuesday that Hansen is already at work on the arena issue, stockpiling land near Safeco Field, home of Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners, and communicating in detail with Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.
Hansen, who has built a fortune in the private investment world, has acquired property south of Safeco Field's parking garage, between South Massachusetts and South Holgate streets east of First Avenue South, records show.

His investment group has yet to produce a firm proposal to McGinn, who has said that the group must make a substantial financial commitment with no new taxes to fund an arena.

All of that leaves just the one, final remaining standard: Which team would move to the city? The obvious answer would be the Kings, who tried and failed to move to Anaheim after the 2010-2011 season and are now working through an effort to build a new arena so that they can remain in Sacramento long-term. Stern told the Tribune that the Kings had been taking "very positive" steps to remain in Sacramento.

What does all of this mean for the future of professional basketball in Seattle? Nothing definitely, but being back on the map is important. A motivated, patient and hard-working Clay Bennett eventually succeded in landing the Thunder in Oklahoma City. The process took years to play out, but his relationship with Stern was a key factor in getting it done.

If there's a will, three hundred million dollars, and an arena, there's generally a way in Stern's NBA.

Since: Dec 11, 2007
Posted on: February 9, 2012 3:49 am

Stern: Seattle return possible if new arena built

When I tell people I grew up in Seattle they often ask how I feel about the whole Sonics thing. I get all choked up, put my head down and cry a little bit. A couple of my friends were asking me about it recently, so I again watched the documentary Sonicsgate to relive the pain and cry a little bit more. But it actually turned out to be therapeutic. I think I'm starting to get over it. I used to be so passionate and mad at everybody that I never wanted an NBA team to come back to Seattle. But as I watched the documentary again and remembered all the fun things about having our own team, I figured "Why should I let Stern and Clay Bennett ruin my fun?"  Yeah, I'm still mad at Stern and Bennett because they're DIrCKS and I want them to wither and die. But everybody else? Howard Schultz? He's a businessman who wanted to make a shiotload of money. He did. I'm kinda over it. Greg Nickels? He had good intentions, but blew it big time. I'm kinda over it. The NBA? Who is that? I'm really still just mad at Stern and Bennett. That's it. What do I want from/for them? Stern has pretty much accomplished everything he could  want during his "successful" career. He's old and has to be getting close to retiring. What can anyone do to him at this point? Not much. I feel about Stern kinda the same way I feel about G.W.Bush- he fudged things up, and got out intact. And that's that. What do I want for Bennett? I want a team, so that my team can kick his team's ArSe. But beyond those two dicks- I'm kinda over it. It's been three (plus) years. The wound is starting to heal.   I guess I would have two stipulations for getting a new team:  1. Wait until Stern is gone. I don't want him to be any part of bringing a team back here. Once he's gone, I think I would be OK with it.  2. I would never have a problem with Seattle being the city that won't use public money to pay for professional sports stuff. If Seattle does choose to fund a new arena I'd be OK with that too. But if the NBA doesn't come back because Seattleites don't want to pay for it, I think that's cool.  Anyway, thanks for letting me vent. I'm trying to get all the rage out.  Thoughts?

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: February 8, 2012 2:57 pm

Stern: Seattle return possible if new arena built

Let a new owner pay for a stadium then.

Since: Oct 18, 2008
Posted on: February 8, 2012 12:29 pm

Stern: Seattle return possible if new arena built

Sacramento got the kings from KC. Utah got the jazz from no. Both of those cities wanted a NBA team. Teams move that's life in professional sports.

Since: May 15, 2007
Posted on: February 8, 2012 10:50 am

Stern: Seattle return possible if new arena built

I think would be a cruel twist of fate if Seattle regains a team by ripping one from the hands of another devoted, smaller-sized market. Essentially, they'd be doing the same thing OKC did to them.

Since: Feb 8, 2012
Posted on: February 8, 2012 10:45 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Dec 29, 2011
Posted on: February 8, 2012 8:54 am

Stern: Seattle return possible if new arena built

There's absolutely no doubt that the fans can support an NBA franchise. A proper sports venue with all the fixings is always a big deal for a city to get a franchise for any sport.

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