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Seattle arena backer cleared to shop for NBA team

Sep 14, 2012, 7:59 AM EDT

Seattle SuperSonics v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

Seattle, you have a green light.

With developer Chris Hansen on the verge of a $490 million financial agreement with the Seattle City Council — it’s been recommended for approval but there is a final vote ahead on the renegotiated memorandum of understanding — the possibility of an NBA return to Seattle has never looked better.

What they need now is a team.

Hansen, at a celebration event for the deal at a Seattle bar Thursday, told the AP the NBA has been watching the process. He also tried to caution fans that this is not going to be instantaneous.

“I worry that people are expecting us to get this deal done and it be like magic and a team would be here this year. It’s like, `Poof and we’ve got a deal done and where is our team?’ This is a far more difficult process. I think anybody who is intimately familiar with the NBA knows this is a tough next phase we have to go through.”

A lot of people are looking to Sacramento and the Kings as a team Seattle bound, but that is not likely in the short term. The Maloof family (which owns the Kings) seems to live in a fairytale land where someone will build them an arena but let the Maloofs retain majority ownership of the team and rake in the profits from the arena. Something that’s going to happen right after my first date with Kate Upton.

After that, there are not easy to move teams out there. The New Orleans Hornets just got a new owner who will keep them in town. The Memphis Grizzlies are about to get a new owner and have a rock-solid lease anyway. Owner Herb Kohl is looking for future owners that keep the Bucks in Milwaukee.

But Seattle is in the market. It may not happen as fast as Seattle fans want, but they are shopping and that is a big step.

  1. deadeyedesign23 - Sep 14, 2012 at 8:22 AM

    What about the Pacers? They had a pretty good team last year and were next to last in home attendance.

  2. themanchine - Sep 14, 2012 at 8:43 AM

    Seattle Timberwolves. No one wants to play in Minnesota anyway and they don’t have a storied history other than the KG-era.

  3. prosourcetalk - Sep 14, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Add teams in Seattle & Kansas City, then realign the divisions

    • mazblast - Sep 15, 2012 at 3:09 PM

      Yeah, that’s all we need, more watering down of the product.

  4. diamondmo33 - Sep 14, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    Take the pacers.

  5. ufullpj - Sep 14, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    I cannot wait for the hypercritical “Save Our Sonics” and “SonicsGate” people to weigh in. It’s the worst thing in the world when the Sonics moved, prompting them to bash the city, town, people, everything of OKC – but now that they’ll steal some other city’s team, it’s OK.

    And while I agree that both KC and Seattle should have teams, they should be expansion teams – not teams relocated from other markets.

    • mazblast - Sep 15, 2012 at 3:10 PM

      I think you meant “hypocritical”, not “hypercritical”. Different meanings.

  6. liddogg33 - Sep 14, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Watch your mouth about the save our sonics people!!! The people of.seattle were ROBBED by a billionaire whose coffee company was BUILT within the very city he robbed and another HILLBILLY BILLIONAIRE that had ZERO intentions of keeping the FORTY YEAR TRADITON in town!!! BTW…

    • danfrommv - Sep 14, 2012 at 7:39 PM

      I understand the feeling, but you have to realize that all professional sports are designed to make the owners very rich and they want to do it with free money from the local citizens. The teams have absolutely no loyalty, but they want to appear to so that the fans continue to support (read spend) on the teams.

      Seattle now becomes leverage for any team thinking about moving. There is now a legitimate threat for some of the other teams that have an old arena and want their city to build them a new one.

      I wish it were different, but it’s not. As a former Rams season ticket owner in OC, I know all too well about how team loyalty works.

  7. williamtschneeman - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    I hold the same reservations as you to “stealing some other city’s team,” especially if that team is Milwaukee, given the historical significance (entering the league only one year after the Supersonics). So I propose a simple solution that will spare the cities of Milwaukee, Sacramento, et. al., avoid any charges of hypocrisy, silence “Save Our Sonics,” and decrease the arms race in public subsidies: Return Our Supersonics!

    And, then, OKC can–as you suggest is the preferred method–wait for an expansion team–one that you create your own 41 year history with.

  8. kdn4 - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    Hey OKC,

    Thanks for keeping our team warm for us while we build a world class arena. We’ll take our team back, but you can keep Westbrook.


    Seattle Supersonics

    PS… Give us back that trophy you never Clay.

    • thebigcaptain2011 - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:16 PM

      What’s up with all of this Westbrook hate? He single handedly nearly won game 4 last season. Seattle would be lucky to even a sniff a player of his talent in their first 5 years of returning to the NBA.

  9. ufullpj - Sep 14, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    A-ha, I see that now all the “SOS” geniuses have weighed in. It’s OK to steal the Bucks from Milwaukee, right? Or the Kings from Sacramento? The intelligence displayed in the posts is proof positive of mis-directed anger and confusion. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like how OKC got a team anymore than I like how Memphis or New Orleans got a team, or how the Indianapolis Colts or Baltimore Ravens got teams, or the Washington Nationals or Phoenix Coyotes got teams, either. But should your anger be toward the “Hillbillies” in OKC (@liddogg33), or OKC “keeping the team warm” (@kdn4) or the great solution from @williamtscheeman.

    Get a clue, folks. You should be angry at one guy first and foremost: Howard Schultz. If you guys think Schultz built a multi-billion dollar retail coffee company and didn’t know that Clay Bennett was going to go through the motions to move the Sonics to Oklahoma, than you’re really ignorant. But I suspect most of you knew that. The next people you should be upset with is both Bennett and Stern. They lied. No doubt about it. Stern wanted to send a message to the city councils and taxpayers of other markets, and he used the Sonics. It sucks. He used the Sonics as an example of what would happen if new arenas were continually not built. He leveraged his power….but don’t forget, ALL the other owners voted to approve the sale. It could have been blocked by the owners, but wasn’t.

    But now it will be OK to move another team to Seattle? The more you guys keep acting like total tools, the harder it is to stay on your side. Seattle could have a ton of goodwill, but instead has mouthpieces who continue to act like the bitter divorcee who sucks the life out of any situation. It’s gotten old.

    • rainman4040 - Sep 15, 2012 at 4:04 PM

      @ufullpj, check your facts before play pretend, not “ALL” owners voted unanimous on the OKC move as you stated in caps none the less. Paul Allen and Mark Cubin voted against it. Just gives zero credibility and makes reader move on to next comment.

  10. facebookuser111 - Sep 14, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    There is something a little different for Chris Hansen to go out and buy a team and move it to Seattle and Clay Bennet buying a team under the guise of wanting to keep it in Seattle and then proceed to ‘Major League’ it into the basement so he can move it to his hometown.

    The owner of the team who sells to Hansen knows that team will be in Seattle as soon as the ink dries, no deception, no lies and no two years of lame duck attempts at trying to keep the team. No doubt Schultz is public enemy number one, with Stern and Bennet not far behind. That doesnt change that someone was lying to us the whole time, either Schultz saying he didnt know Bennet wanted to move the team, or Bennet when he said he wanted to keep the team in Seattle.

    This situation is not the same.

    • ufullpj - Sep 14, 2012 at 7:04 PM

      Actually, it is – but your revisionist history and justification is exactly the point I’m making.

      • spideysdog - Sep 14, 2012 at 7:46 PM

        Why are we all debating ancient history? THis is business. I lived in Seattle for 32 years. Nobody IN Seattle wanted the team when Howard was selling them. Everybody on the planet knew, no matter what garbage was spewed, that Clay was buying to move them to OKC. He had publicly stated 4 years before that he would “bring NBA action back to OKC” after the Hornets returned to New Orleans.

        As for taking another team? Teams are businesses. Business are bought and sold every day. Stern has been very clear about not wanting to expand in the near future. I don’t foresee that happening. Seattle will end up buying a team, and moving them to the new arena, and the city will have regained NBA basketball.

        Personally, I am amazed by the perspective that some fans take.

        A. nobody took “YOUR” SuperSonics away, cause “YOU” never owned them.
        B. For all the people that are complaining about how the OKC Thunder got OUR team and “stole” it….. where the “F” were ya when Nick LIcata made moronic statements like “basketball provides no cultural value to a community” How many politicians did YOU contact.
        C. Chris Hansen is going to be a better owner than Schultz or Ackerly EVER was. Mark my words.

  11. williamtschneeman - Sep 14, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    If you actually read anything we’ve written, you’ll quickly find out that we are angry at Howard Schultz, “first and foremost.” In fact, the legendary broadcaster Kevin Calabro has repeatedly stated that he destroyed the “public trust.” Second, we are mad at Bennett and Stern. And you’ll find no disagreement with either the contention that they lied or that they sought to send a message to city councils to extract taxpayer dollars–though, I would add bargained in bad faith to that list. And, yes, we are upset at all of the other owners who voted to approve the sale as they sought to increase the value of their team by gaining leverage for public financing within their cities (with the noted exception of Cuban and Allen both of whom voted against). And we’re also mad at every narrative that suggests the reason the team moved is because of the canard that we weren’t good fans.

    But here is the thing, ufullpj: I do not want to steal Oscar’s Bucks or Vlade’s Kings (even if they came from Rochester via Kansas City and Omaha) or any other team. I want the Seattle Supersonics back. We’ve got the better arena lined up; we’ve got the bigger market, primed to take advantage of its ties to Asia. So until “geniuses” like you stop dismissing that idea and start working towards it, we’re forced to play a game that OKC helped write the rules to.

    And when we get a new NBA team you can treat like just like how you treat NO, Memphis, the Colts, Ravens, Nationals, Phoenix, etc. And make no mistake: We will get a team. So you might as well grow up and get over it now.

    • ufullpj - Sep 14, 2012 at 7:11 PM

      What am I supposed to get over? I’m a Bucks fan. I know we’ll lose the Bucks…if not to Seattle, then to K.C. It’s going to happen…but there’s little I can do about it. I don’t live there anymore. I can’t worry about it. I still have a family, a career, many, many, many more important things to worry about than the Milwaukee Bucks.

      But it’s amazing to me the justification from the Sonics people for supporting the very thing they’ve yelled and screamed about from the start. That’s the point of what I wrote – and the responses from all of you are just further driving the hypocritical point home.

      So, I’ll echo it back to you – Get over it. You’re not getting the Thunder back. They’ll probably leave OKC one day, but they aren’t going back to Seattle.

      So, take your own valuable advice: Grow up and get over it.

      • 1seahawker - Sep 15, 2012 at 12:34 AM

        You shouldn’t be talking about things you know nothing about. Your team is still in your town with a longtime owner who truly cares about it staying there. Noone in Seattle that give any kind of crap about fans like us, want to take that away from someone else. In a perfect world the NBA should give us an expansion team. And for the a-holes bashing the sonicsgate, and save our Sonics guys. Get a damn clue. Those people fought tooth and nail to keep our team in its rightful place, in its rightful city. A city that loved and supported the team for 41 years. As someone who attended every rally, every townhall meeting, every protest, emailed every state politician, went to every city and county meeting, we were kicked in the pills by Howard the prick schultz. I want the NBA back in Seattle. What would anyone do in the same position. We don’t want to steal anyone’s team. I would feel dirty talking about a specific team in a specific city, that loves their team like I loved mine. Sacramento fans don’t deserve to lose their team. Just like the buck fans don’t!!

    • ufullpj - Sep 14, 2012 at 7:25 PM

      Two additional points: Good correction on Cuban and Allen. Cuban was against it for many reasons, including TV money.

      Second – why would I work towards helping you? That’s point. You guys continuously insult everyone and now you want us to help you? The “two wrongs make a right” crowd like yourselves typically have Ph.d’s in rationalization and justification.

      Given the obnoxious behavior from the vocal Sonics fans like yourself, do you really think people are pulling for the rude, entitled, obnoxious fan base to get a team back? I do a lot of work in Seattle and love the city, but I’ve been hearing the same tired crap from “SOS” since everything happened. It’s crossed the rubicon from feeling sorry for the fan base to just wanting them to shut up. And the sad part is that it’s a really small, almost inconsequential, group of Sonics fans that can’t get over it and work towards securing an expansion team.

      Good luck. Take a team from somewhere else. I’m sure that will make your life whole.

      • 1seahawker - Sep 15, 2012 at 12:49 AM

        So am I to asume with your last comment IF the bucks leave and people are pist off and heart broken that everyone should just not feel bad for the fan base. The save our Sonics guys are passionate Sonics and NBA fans. I’m pretty damn sure your city has the same type of fan. Talking down about a group of people that were driven to save our team is really dumb. The NBA could do the right thing here. Expand to Seattle, and all this crap talking would go away.

      • rainman4040 - Sep 15, 2012 at 4:40 PM

        Hey man were all fans of our teams, thats why were all expressing our views. I dont want to take your Bucks or any other towns team including OKC. Just a lifelong Sonic fan wishing we still had a team. But for now ill pin my hopes on a rookie QB to take us to a Superbowl for a little Seattle native sports fan entertainment! Go Hawks.

    • mazblast - Sep 15, 2012 at 3:16 PM

      Rochester via CINCINNATI and Kansas City-Omaha. The franchise has moved three times (so far). The Cincinnati Royals played their home games at Cincinnati Gardens, walking distance from my high school. The owners made the mistake of gutting the team BEFORE demanding a new arena, then moved it after the public AND the city said, “Who cares?”

      • williamtschneeman - Sep 16, 2012 at 1:54 PM

        Correct. My apologies. An unnecessary mistake for someone who counts “The Inside Game” among his favorite sports books.

  12. liddogg33 - Sep 14, 2012 at 10:27 PM

    BTW….. I called Clay Bennett a HILLBILLY!!!! Not the OKC fans!! My one and only issue with them is the claiming of history that IS NOT THEIRS TO CLAIM!!! No matter what!!!! And yes… SEATTLE IS BUILDING AN ARENA AND SOON VERY SOON THE NBA WILL BE BACK IN TOWN!!!!

  13. williamtschneeman - Sep 14, 2012 at 11:45 PM

    Cuban’s motivations for his vote, as Allen’s, are inconsequential. I merely sought accuracy. And, while this may be a surprise to you, I did not expect Cuban’s vote to be based on what is best for basketball in Seattle. (Allen’s motivation, however, may have been for reasons that are not mutually exclusive.)

    But it’s curious that you’ve chosen this moment to climb upon your soapbox to select and denounce a fan base for “obnoxiousness,” this moment to elucidate a “hypocritical point”, and this moment to, instead of resigning yourself to the fact this is part of the modern process, to be the self-elected hypocrisy police–despite the fact that you have “many, many, many more important things.”

    And the answer is pretty obvious—now that it’s your team, you care. Your own self-interest is oozing through each of your comments. So we know you will not help us (even if, in the end, it would be in your best interest). And we will continue to rely on our “inconsequential” fans–who just saw the completion of one more step in the process completed. Personally, I’ve never denied that unless the Sonics are returned, that I was willing to play the game by the rules PBC of Oklahoma City wrote. But, maybe, it’s time you come clean.

    So as you suggested we direct our anger, I now suggest you to do the same. Here is the Milwaukee Bucks’ contact information:

    (I am sure they will put you right through to Senator Kohl, and you can tell him all about how we Sonics fans crossed the Rubicon. Maybe you can ever take him to a Seattle Pilots, I mean, Milwaukee Brewers game.)

    • mazblast - Sep 15, 2012 at 3:20 PM

      The Seattle Pilots reference was unnecessary. The Pilots were bankrupt when Bud & Co. bought and moved them. I don’t think the Bucks (or Kings, for that matter) are bankrupt.

      There would be a certain symmetry if Seattle were to take a team that Milwaukee lost. I hope it doesn’t happen that way, though.

      • steveschefflersquat - Sep 16, 2012 at 12:16 PM

        Lack of financial resources in the Seattle ownership group did play a role. But equally as significant was the state of Sick’s Seattle Stadium. The latter, at least, matches the Bradley center; while both conditions match the situation of the Kings.

        But the point was simple: perhaps before searching about for our hypocrisy, other cities would do well to examine their own.

  14. AlohaMrHand - Sep 15, 2012 at 1:02 AM

    Seattle Kings does have a nice ring to it.

    • mazblast - Sep 15, 2012 at 3:21 PM

      SuperSonics it would have to be. At least they won a championship, which is more than the Kings have ever done in any of their four cities. “Seattle SuperSonics” was always a cool name, too.

  15. texxxasmade - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    What about taking the Houston Rockets? Think they’ll go?

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