Seattle pro sports
4:56 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

It’s a dirty game, but NBA may make surprise return to Seattle

Seattle may once again become a NBA city, but we’ll have to steal a team to do it.

“The diabolical nature of pro sports means that you have to do bad unto others as they have done bad unto you,” said KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel. “And it puts the city of Seattle in the same business of ruthless poacher, pirate, stealer of another city.”

In other words, it’s déjà vu all over again for a city that had its team – the Sonics – ripped from its collection of pro sports.

According to news reports, San Francisco hedge-fund manager Christopher Hansen has been working beneath the public eye with the Seattle mayor’s office to bring a new NBA franchise to Seattle. And, it’s speculated that Hansen would poach the Sacramento Kings for a move to Seattle.

The city of Sacramento is currently under extreme pressure to build a new facility for the Kings. Sacramento must present a deal favoring a new facility by March 1, or the Kings may very well be up for grabs.

The whole situation revolving around a new facility for the Kings is what Seattle faced in 2008 with Key Arena and the Sonics. Big money men in Oklahoma City “stole” the Sonics back then.

Will Sacramento feel the same animosity towards the Emerald City that Seattle felt towards Oklahoma City in 2008?

Plenty here hope so … or at least are okay with the prospect.

Hockey in the mix as well

All this dirty business goes beyond the NBA. With intentions to build a new arena, the allure for a new NHL franchise accompanies the hopes some have for a new Seattle basketball team.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has shown interest in placing a team in Seattle, in turn creating speculation that the financially struggling Phoenix Coyotes could move to Seattle.

What about the money?

“If somebody comes forward and is going to spend or invest hundreds of millions of dollars in our city, we have to take that seriously,” Seattle mayor Mike McGinn told King 5 News.

Originally a Seattle native, 44-year-old Hansen appears serious about investing his money here. On Dec. 6, he purchased a three-acre parcel of land south of Safeco Field for $21.6 million, nearly $3 million more than the assessed value.

According to the Seattle Times, New Jersey arena consultant Carl Hirsh estimated the cost of building a new state-of-the-art facility at around $400 million.

Despite the love of pro sports, Seattle taxpayers have made quite clear that they will not split the bill for a new arena.

In 2006, a large majority approved Initiative 91, which mandates that a profit be returned to the city on any investments made towards a sports arena.

The Associated Press reports that Mayor McGinn is for the new sports complex, but stresses that he doesn’t want the city left “holding the bag.” This means no public money will be spent, no money from the general fund will be tapped and no new taxes will be initiated.

Is it worth coming to Seattle?

It’s still a long shot for a new franchise to call Seattle home, said Thiel, who co-founded Sportspress Northwest. He said so little information has been released about the potential deal that it is hard to speculate on what the outcome will be. 

Even if a new arena is built here and two new teams arrive to the Emerald city, they would have to compete with four other professional teams, as well as the popular University of Washington sports program.

“What NBA or NHL team wants to move here and be the last ticket in town?” Thiel said.

Nevertheless, Thiel added, Kings fans don’t have anything to worry about yet, “but the NBA knows it made a mistake in leaving Seattle.”

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