Basketball might be making its way back to the Emerald City
On February 16, 2012 a Hedge Fund Manager by the name of Chris Hansen unveiled his proposal to build a brand new stadium in the SoDo district on a plot of land just south of Safeco Field.
This news brought the city of Seattle out of its long winter slumber and ignited a fan base that has had nothing to cheer about since 2008, the last year the Seattle Super Sonics played an NBA game. Fans from all walks of life began to form at City Hall to hopefully celebrate some good news.
It was only a few years back that those same fans were at City Hall to protest Clay Bennett’s decision to move the Sonics to Oklahoma City and rename them the Thunder. Not only did Bennett take the team, he took the 1979 World Championship trophy and, apparently, the history.
That is all in the past, and now there seems to be a light at the end of a long and oppressive tunnel. The one issue that kept the Sonics out of Seattle seems to be resolved, because at long last there is a proposal to build a new stadium.
It seems as if the Sonics have new life and NBA basketball is back in the State of Washington.
The new deal plans to use mostly private money to build the stadium but it will eventually be sold in increments back to the public. The man behind the plan, Chris Hansen, is originally from the Seattle area, having grown up and gone to high school about 5-10 minutes outside of downtown Seattle. He knows how important the Sonics are to their city.
Now that the stadium issue surrounding this city is resolved, the next step is getting a team to Seattle. This can be accomplished in two ways:
First is the difficult way—getting an expansion team. I am not sure how this process works but I can imagine the difficulty behind it. Trying to conjure up a team from nowhere can be a lengthy procedure. It is not like soccer where new teams can select certain players from existing teams to make up their own.
The next option is to vulture a team from another city. Just like Bennett did, Hansen and his partners can try to entice the Sith Lord, er, NBA Commissioner David Stern, to let Seattle take a franchise that is on the ropes and in a bout between the city and the ownership.
This second option brings two teams to mind, the Sacramento Kings and the New Orleans Hornets.
The Hornets were in the forefront of the news in the beginning of the NBA year because of their star point guard Chris Paul’s desire to be traded. There were options on the table, but before any deal could be reached, the NBA (which owns the Hornets) nixed the deal. It appeared that Stern was trying to keep Paul in New Orleans to raise the value of the team so when they sell it to some group, they can get the most money. But why does the NBA even own the Hornets?
They bought the team from George Shinn after he tried to unload the team on the minority owner, but the minority owner did not want it due to money issues. Since both owners were unwilling to continue paying for the team, the NBA stepped in and bought it. Stern told the fans and the team that the priority would be to find a local buyer for the team (something he did not do in Seattle).
Now the NBA is looking to sell the Hornets to the highest bidder and there seem to be no New Orleans businessmen in sight. It is possible for Hansen to buy the Hornets, move them to Seattle, slap the green and gold of the Sonics on to their uniforms and let them play ball in front of a passionate fan base.
The other team that could possibly move to Seattle is the Sacramento Kings. They, like Seattle all those years ago, are in a fight between the city, the ownership and the NBA. It is the same issue—getting a new, modern arena.
Once again, Stern is being kind to the city, allowing them to try and work out a deal (again, something Stern did not do in Seattle). The Kings very nearly moved to Anaheim last year but the NBA gave them more time to solve their issues. However, the deadline for the Kings to strike a deal with the city is near, and so far, no deal has been struck.
It seems like, from this fans perspective, that with a new arena on the way and two teams that are up for relocation, the Sonics are coming back. Stern cannot keep denying Seattle the franchise that it deserves.