Storyline: Seattle Team?

116 rumors in this storyline

6 days ago via ESPN
Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant says he would like to own an NBA team when his playing career is finished, and he admits it would be a ‘great story’ if the team he ran brought the NBA back to Seattle. “Hell yeah,” Durant told ESPN following Wednesday night’s 129-105 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. “Of course I would. No matter if it’s Seattle or any team, just to help young men grow. Or help men in the next phase of their lives as basketball players. Why not? Especially somebody who’s gone through it and been through just about everything as an NBA player, outside of getting traded, I’ve been through pretty much everything. I would love to give back to an organization, the knowledge that I’ve gained. So hell yeah I’d be interested.”

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6 days ago via ESPN

“It’s just the fact that I played there and I get so much love there,” Durant said. “More than any city in the league probably. Look, it would be a great story. But it would be a lot of hard work, it won’t be easy because it’s Seattle. After the press release and the first couple of weeks it’s straight to work. I know people want to tie me into Seattle a lot, and I love being part of that, but I’m not just waiting for that opportunity. Any opportunity that comes around where I could become [part of] an ownership group or a front office or anywhere I could just help the team as of right now in my life I would go for it, but who knows what will happen at the end of my career?”

After talking to multiple sources around the NBA about Seattle, there is no plan for NBA expansion on the table. The NBA’s owners are not even considering it. Nobody expects them to take up expansion the near future — meaning five or seven years — either. Maybe, at best, it could be part of the next television package discussions in 2025, but the market will be so different by then nobody is making predictions.

An NBA source said Tuesday the league has no interest at all in the Blazers relocating to Seattle, shooting down one of the early rumors that surfaced after Allen died Monday of non-Hodgkins lymphoma at age 65. The Blazers’ lease with the City of Portland at the Moda Center runs through at least 2025, the team is making money — unlike struggling franchises in Memphis and New Orleans — and the league also is uninterested in repairing its image in Seattle by hurting another Northwest city.

So don’t call this a referendum, or a test. What transpired at KeyArena on Friday — 48 minutes of frenzy and deep-seated nostalgia, the release of pent-up NBA frustration during a supremely meaningless exhibition game between the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings — was more like a reminder. Or a wake-up call. “There’s an awakening, so to speak, but people here have been fans for a long time,’’ said Lenny Wilkens. “They just haven’t had a place to channel it.”
2 months ago via ESPN

However, Grizzlies owner Robert Pera would have to sell the team in order to move it under the terms of the lease, and Pera has given no indication he plans to do so. Quite the opposite, actually. Earlier this year, Pera agreed to buy out some of his minority owners at a price that valued the team at nearly $1.3 billion, league sources said. At the time, Pera told season-ticket holders in a statement that “I am committed to Memphis as an NBA market and as the home of the Grizzlies.”
2 months ago via ESPN

Oak View is planning an ambitious engineering feat, which Leiweke is quick to point out is not a renovation but a new structure. The issue is that the arena’s iconic roof has been designated a national historic landmark and can’t be altered. The arena is also built into the side of a hill in a neighborhood that has turned more residential in the past decade with more than 40 former parking and vacant lots turned into housing as it sits near Amazon’s world headquarters. So to expand the outdated arena, Oak View is planning to dig down and around the roof and several exterior glass walls to gut and expand the building’s footprint. First pegged as a $600 million project, Leiweke told ESPN the price tag is now projected at $750 million.

He was a kid at the time, all of 19 years old, about to conclude his first NBA season. He stood on the court in green and gold, waving his arms up and down, asking for more noise from the home crowd begging for another chance to see the home team play. That was more than 10 years ago. Kevin Durant was that kid. The Seattle SuperSonics were his team. “Just that culture of the Sonics was really, really deep and so many people all around the world or all around the country enjoyed the Sonics,” Durant said recently. “It was pretty crazy, man, now that I think about it the time we spent there, the little time we spent there and how much we could have impacted the city if we stayed.”

He fell in love with Seattle, only to see it ripped away after less than a year. “I was anticipating the move obviously but it happened so quickly. That’s the nature of the business,” Durant said. “It was devastating for the fans and I was still getting used to the city as well. I was kind of confused emotionally on how to think about that but as time went on and you see the excitement for Thunder basketball in Oklahoma City, you tend to wonder. It was me and Nick (Collison) and Jeff (Green) at the time. Once we started having some success, we were the only guys that played on the Seattle team. We were just thinking about how crazy it would have been being in the playoffs, going to the finals in Seattle. It was still great in Oklahoma City as well.”

“Somehow, by 2002, when Schultz had increased his rhetoric about public funding for a re-do of the stadium, people were wondering: How can this be state of the art and five years later be obsolete?” Thiel said. “They’re coming back for a second helping in a decade.” Key Arena’s main problem is its size. The 1995 renovation bumped its capacity from around 14,000 to just over 17,000, the smallest in the league at that time. Even worse, its footprint is significantly smaller than average NBA buildings. That cramps the loading and management of events and severely limits the number of restaurants and accompanying entertainments options you can add to the game-night experience, reducing the revenue ceiling.

Local radio personalities complained. The interview opportunities they got in the past with players and coaches had been stripped away, leading to less positive, basketball-related Sonics talk. “In hindsight, it turned out to be another way to make a point when litigation commenced that the fan base had lost interest in the Sonics, so why keep a wounded team where people didn’t want it?” Thiel said. “So a small thing they could do, like keeping their players unavailable for interviews, would be another way to help the alienation along.”

Cool, Durant thought. He’d gone from Oak Hill Academy in Virginia as a high school junior to Montrose Christian near Washington, D.C. as a senior to Texas for his freshman year of college to Seattle for his rookie year in the NBA. This would be his fifth different city in five years. “I was excited going to Oklahoma City because it was close to Texas,” Durant said. “I’m like, I’m down to move because I’ve done bounced around so many places anyway, so why not?” A decade older, that news hits him a bit differently today. “Thinking back on it, you start to realize what that means to fans,” Durant said. “You see the Chargers move and the Raiders thinking about moving, even us moving right across the bridge, you realize how much a franchise means to a community. Now that I got older, I understand what fans went through.”

The Seattle City Council put an end to a debate spanning more than a decade by approving a $700 million makeover of the KeyArena. It is part of what will – likely – be a more than $1.4 billion private investment in the city where an NHL team can call home. The vote was unanimous. … Bonderman, a minority owner of the NBA’s Boston Celtics, has also not ruled out spending more to bring the Sonics back. His group is also pitching in millions more for transportation, YouthCare, and affordable housing.

Some around the league see expansion as inevitable, no matter how many times Silver says there are no looming plans for adding teams, since the expansion fee involved would almost certainly cross the $1 billion threshold given current franchise values and the way league revenue, TV ratings and various other metrics tied to general interest in the N.B.A. all continue to trend upward. But maintaining a 30-team league and moving a struggling franchise to Seattle within the next decade might prove to be the easier course.

The Clippers are a vanity project under Steve Ballmer as they were under Donald Sterling. They don’t belong to a fan base as much as an owner. You know what fans expect. What owners want, or are capable of, varies. Only Donald would have brought the Clippers here from San Diego to show he wouldn’t fail on the same level if they were closer to home. With less competitive, more hospitable sites like Seattle yearning for teams, only Ballmer may keep them here to show they’re worth that $2 billion he paid.

The ownership group that applied to bring the NHL to Seattle is optimistic as it begins a season-ticket drive Thursday. It is also leaving the door open for another feat: bringing an NBA franchise back to the city. “The answer is absolutely,” investment banker David Bonderman told ESPN. “If there is a franchise to be had from the NBA, we want to be up there fighting for it for Seattle.” Bonderman joins longtime sports executive Tim Leiweke and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer as leads for the Oak View Group, which is hoping to found the NHL’s 32nd team. Earlier this month, the OVG submitted paperwork and a $10 million down payment to the league. The NHL is likely to accept the bid pending the results of the season-ticket drive.

Durant on the Seattle SuperSonics’ relocation to Oklahoma City in 2008 – “I’m going to be real. I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, but I could get where the fans were coming from. It was tough. I loved being in Seattle. The love there was amazing, and to play in front of those fans, it would have been cool to grow up there as a player. But that was out of my hands. I had no control over that. But I get the business side, and that’s the bad part of this. You’re taking a great team, a great culture away from a city like Seattle. I can’t wait until another team goes back.”

The NHL confirmed what had been rumored for months at its Board of Governors meeting — Seattle is a definite target for hockey, which has 31 teams and needs a 32nd to balance out both its conferences and its schedules. The NHL will allow members of the Oak View Group, which successfully lobbied the Seattle City Council to approve its plan to spend $660 million to renovate both the Arena and the nearby Seattle Center, to begin a season ticket drive for the potential expansion team. Hockey’s timetable for expansion is thus clearly and substantially ahead of the NBA’s.

Though NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said earlier this year that he believes expansion is “inevitable,” there is no indication among league owners and other sources that there’s any current appetite among NBA owners to add one or two new teams. The obvious reason why is there is no appetite among them to further split the $24 billion from the new national TV deal, which runs through 2024. (As ever, in the interests of full disclosure: Turner Sports, one of the NBA’s national television partners along with ESPN/ABC, runs NBA.com.) “I don’t see expansion,” one owner said this weekend. “A move is the only way.”

However, longtime Seattle sport columnist Art Thiel wrote last week that a source “with knowledge of the league’s long-range thinking” believes the NBA could expand when the current TV deal expires, meaning 2025 at the absolute earliest. Several owners told me a few weeks ago: that while there is strong support for Seattle, there’s just no desire to expand. Thiel’s source said that Seattle and Mexico City were the two current favorites among owners, and the league has done nothing to dissuade the idea that it’s zeroed in on Mexico City as a potential expansion target.

But another said Sunday that talk of adding anyone to the current 30-team mix is premature. Owners remain unenthusiastic when there are still several teams who are losing money in their current markets, even with significant increases in revenues, a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that ensures labor peace through at least 2023 (2024 if neither the players nor owners opt out) and enhanced revenue sharing. “We haven’t discussed expansion,” the owner said. “However, Seattle is a market that I believe the majority of owners would want to be in.”

Seattle wants the Sonics back. And the chances of that happening have never been higher. Last summer, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told The Players Tribune that Seattle would be on the short list for an expansion franchise. “I don’t want to put a precise timeline on it,” Silver said. “But it’s inevitable at some point we’ll start looking at growth of franchises. That’s always been the case in this league, and Seattle will no doubt be on a short list of cities we’ll look at.”

Relocation is possible, too. The Grizzlies are owned by a Silicon Valley billionaire who is bleeding money in Memphis. The Pelicans routinely rank in the bottom third of the NBA in attendance and are — at best — a fringe playoff contender. While former NBA commissioner David Stern was often stubbornly opposed to relocation, several high-ranking team officials told Yahoo Sports they believe Silver will take a more pragmatic approach. “I think Adam wants the NBA to be in the best, most viable markets,” said one high-ranking team executive familiar with the league’s thinking. “He’s not looking to move anybody. But David was totally against [relocation]. Adam, I don’t think, is quite as rigid.”

All of it adds up to the kind of uncertainty — on the court and off — that can be difficult for a franchise to overcome, especially one in a smaller market like Memphis. Seattle has been getting more aggressive in trying to address its arena situation to get a team to return to the city vacated when the SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City. But the Grizzlies lease at the FedEx Forum has strong protections through 2021 and the Commercial-Appeal reported that the subset of local owners in the group would be given the chance to buy the team if Pera, or any other owner, were to try to move the Grizzlies before 2027.

In an exclusive hour-long interview with Q13 News’ Bill Wixey, the 60-year-old with a decades-long history in sports said a few things that might make Seattle fans cringe. There’s no magic fix to Key Arena gridlock. A new arena won’t automatically bring back the Sonics, especially in the next three years. Still, Leiweke adamantly believes a rebuilt Key Arena is the best way to get one – if not two – professional sports teams to Seattle. He also believes his Seattle ties, his friendship with Adam Silver, and his vast experience in sports entertainment are Seattle’s best shot at seeing professional basketball again.

There have been questions raised about whether OVG, as a third-party vendor, could attract NBA and NHL teams and make it financially viable for the franchise owners. Leiweke said those doubts should be eliminated with Bonderman’s participation and that the argument is “100 percent not true.” Noble said his office had done its due diligence and “at this stage, we are satisfied” that it will not be a problem. As far as the leagues are concerned, NBA Spokesman Mike Bass said: “The NBA is not involved in the ongoing Seattle arena process, and we have no plans to expand at this time.”

A second owner said Seattle “ is a great market, especially for the NBA,” but echoed Silver’s sentiments. “I agree with you there are some markets that would be great addition to the NBA but in terms of expansion, I think we need 30 solid teams first,” the second owner said. “If there are teams that are repeatedly losing money every year even after revenue sharing, we must consider moving existing teams to those markets first. Then, once all teams are healthy and making a profit, we can perhaps discuss expansion — but not until then.”

Silver was reluctant to put a specific timeline on potential expansion for the NBA or Seattle, but said it was inevitable. Via The Players’ Tribune: I think it’s just a question of when the right time is to seriously start thinking about expansion. Think about the state we’re in the league right now where [it is] amazing to me that, coming off of these Finals, you have some fans saying, “There’s only one good team in the league” And I’m thinking, well, if people really believe that even though we have 450 of the best players in the world, and 450 players can only form one really good team, probably doesn’t make sense to expand in terms of dilution of talent. Now I don’t really believe that, and I think these things correct themselves. And I don’t want to put a precise timeline on it, but it’s inevitable at some point we’ll start looking at growth of franchises, that’s always been the case in this league, and Seattle will no doubt be on a short list of cities we’ll look at.

Adam Silver: “And I’m thinking, well, if people really believe that even though we have 450 of the best players in the world, and 450 players can only form one really good team, probably doesn’t make sense to expand in terms of dilution of talent. Now I don’t really believe that, and I think these things correct themselves. And I don’t want to put a precise timeline on it, but it’s inevitable at some point we’ll start looking at growth of franchises, that’s always been the case in this league, and Seattle will no doubt be on a short list of cities we’ll look at.”

Addressing the parallels between Seattle and Sacramento in their battles to keep an NBA team in place, Stern said the difference boiled down to city leadership. (You can listen to this segment at the 1:11 mark of the podcast.) “Mayor Kevin Johnson was out there doing whatever had to be done,” Stern said. “In Seattle, the speaker of the Seattle house said our players should take a cut in pay and put the money into a fund to help build the building. That’s nothing we had to work with. I did the same things in Seattle that I did in Sacramento, but there was a leader in Sacramento, Kevin Johnson, who was intent on keeping that team.”

The music world was stunned when news broke early Thursday that Chris Cornell, the singer for Soundgarden, Audioslave as well as the owner of a solid solo career, had died after performing in Detroit Wednesday night. Here’s a video from a concert in 2011 in which he appears to spot a fan in a Seattle Supersonics jersey and goes off on the team being taken away from the city and moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. We said it above, but, again: WARNING: Lots of NSFW language ahead.

More than five years into efforts to get a new arena built in Seattle, Chris Hansen remains confident that his goal of being the facilitator for getting the NBA and NHL to Seattle will ultimately be realized. Even if that means dipping even deeper into his pocket to offer up a privately financed facility. “We view that as a civic obligation to protect that and ensure that we do our part in bringing a team back,” Hansen said. “It was with that mindset, we’re not a for-profit enterprise that is attempting to generate a certain level of return on capital as we look at this project to justify it. We’re like, ‘What can we do just to make this work for the city and hopefully if we do that part, in the really long term it will work out for us.’ ”

Investor Chris Hansen stressed patience and optimism Thursday in his ongoing effort to build an arena to house a possible NBA or NHL franchise in Seattle’s stadium district. Hansen’s interview with The Associated Press represented his first public comments in nearly two years about the efforts. Hansen acknowledged his investment group was surprised by the City Council’s decision last May to deny a proposed street closure that would have moved the project forward with some public investment.

There are other questions, too. Can a building that’s more than 200,000 square feet smaller than the smallest arena in the NBA be renovated to meet modern standards? If the NBA does eventually expand, is there an ownership group that would bring a team to KeyArena? And given that nobody knows if or when the KeyArena roof will be declared a historic landmark, can a definitive proposal be written? As of now, the city asks that potential developers present a Plan A and Plan B based on whether the roof will be preserved, but considering that could mean the difference between tearing the building down or not, it’s sort of like writing a song not knowing if it’s going to be for Adele or Eminem. That’s a lot of uncertainty.

Benton Strong, a spokesman for Murray, emphatically denied a widely circulated online basketball website posting Monday that stated Murray had been “ducking” calls from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver over much of the past year. “There is absolutely no truth to that whatsoever,’’ said Strong, who, with Murray, was en route to a mayors’ conference in Washington, D.C. when informed of the post. “If anything, we are trying to get together on a call with both commissioners to keep the lines of communication open.’’

Strong emphatically denied a widely circulated online basketball website posting Monday that stated Murray had been “ducking” calls from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver over much of the past year. “There is absolutely no truth to that whatsoever,’’ said Strong, who, with Murray, was en route to a mayors’ conference in Washington, D.C. when informed of the post. “If anything, we are trying to get together on a call with both commissioners to keep the lines of communication open.’’

The city of Seattle on Wednesday released a new request for proposals (RFP) for the redevelopment of KeyArena in Seattle Center, and the document says tearing down the 55-year-old venue is a possibility. The RFP’s release is the latest news in a long-running conservation over the potential siting of a new arena in Seattle. At the heart of the debate is the possibility of bringing an NBA team back to the city. The Sonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008. The RFP seeks “qualified parties interested in redeveloping and operating KeyArena at Seattle Center as a world-class civic arena presenting music, entertainment, and sports events, including the potential for NBA and NHL events.”

The RFP notes that the MOU doesn’t expire until Dec. 3. It says Seattle remains committed to the terms of the MOU “and is supportive of ArenaCo’s efforts to return NBA basketball and attract NHL hockey to Seattle.” It says, “However, the city must also consider the future of KeyArena, which is a City property that is part of an important city-owned campus, and make contingency plans for its future.” The RFP says the city hopes to negotiate a redevelopment agreement and a long-term lease with the proposer it selects.
2 years ago via ESPN

On Thursday, Wilson said he plans to have an ownership stake in the basketball team, should the NBA return to Seattle. “Yeah, I will. Yes, for sure,” Wilson said. “It’s going to be an exciting thing. “I met Chris a few years ago, and we were having a great conversation. … I’ve told you guys I’ve been really authentic about wanting to own a team one day and being a part of something really special and doing that. And even though I’m young, I definitely have a business mindset. And I want to be able to help people and give back and help change this community, continue to change this community for the better.”

Russell Wilson: I became a SuperSonics fan by playing NBA Jam and watching them on SportsCenter and NBA Inside Stuff. I loved their name. I loved their colors. I loved Kemp and Payton, and then in later years, I loved watching Ray Allen swish corner threes with that perfect form. Even though we lived in Virginia, I got a Sonics jersey one Christmas and I used to put it on and go play hoops out in front of the house, pretending I was Gary Payton. I’m not going to lie, though. Some days I’d put on my Bulls jersey and stick my tongue out and pretend I was MJ, too. I was flexible.

A City Hall source has confirmed that the Los Angeles-based Oak View Group, founded in a partnership between Leiweike and entertainment mega-manager Irving Azoff, is interested in developing KeyArena into a multipurpose facility that could handle NBA or NHL teams. A powerful, new Los Angeles-based company headed by sports executive Tim Leiweke and concert kingpin Irving Azoff wants to renovate KeyArena and make it compatible for NBA and NHL use. “We believe in the KeyArena location,” Leiweke, CEO of the 11-month-old Oak View Group, told The Seattle Times in an interview Thursday night. “We believe that the studies have proven — and we will continue to do additional studies as we go through this process — that there is a chance to renovate and make that arena work for music and sports.

Chris Hansen and his investment team on Tuesday offered to forgo public financing to build a new sports arena in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood. The group also said it would cover the current funding gap to build an overpass over Lander Street, a project long desired by freight and industrial interests concerned about congestion in around the Port of Seattle. The proposal amounts to a stunning and swift turn in the nearly five-year debate over building a new arena and, ultimately, bringing a professional basketball and hockey team to the city.

Chris Hansen, Erik Nordstrom, Pete Nordstrom, Wally Walker: “In a letter to the Mayor and King County Executive — both of whom share our goal of bringing the Sonics and NHL back to Seattle — we described the steps we are willing to take to move the Arena project forward. First, we will direct contributions to a package of additional SODO traffic improvements, which will improve freight mobility through the area. Second, we agreed to commit future payment of compensation for the vacated street to the city’s financing package for the Lander Street Overpass, thereby helping to close the funding gap for that important project. Finally, we have agreed to revising the street vacation petition to eliminate public financing of the Arena. Terminating the MOU would allow the city and county to recoup the $200 million in debt capacity and free-up Arena tax-generated revenue streams. To make this all possible we have asked for approval of a revised conditional street vacation, a waiver of the city’s admissions tax, which has been granted for the other sports venues in Seattle, and an adjustment of the city’s B&O tax for revenue generated out of town.”

Seattle was a strong NBA market for many years, going crazy for the Sonics of Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, which reached The Finals in 1996. From 1995-99, the Sonics basically sold out Key Arena, and they never averaged less than 14,300 fans from 1991-2007, their next-to-last season in town. The city and surrounding area has a rich tradition of producing NBA talent, including current players Isaiah Thomas, Jamal Crawford, Jason Terry, Marvin Williams, Spencer Hawes, Rodney Stuckey and Aaron Brooks. “Seattle is a far better market than at least 10 NBA cities,” said a very high ranking executive of one of the league’s 29 teams last week.

For Seattle, the only realistic choice is expansion. The reasons for not expanding now are varied, and logical. There’s no reason for owners to split an exploding financial pie further. The NBA is in a boom period, with market size not nearly as important as it used to be. The league does not need to have a team in Seattle, the country’s 14th largest TV market. (The success of the Thunder in Oklahoma City, ironically — and, sadly for Seattle — only magnifies the point.)

Seattle was a strong NBA market for many years, going crazy for the Sonics of Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, which reached The Finals in 1996. From 1995-99, the Sonics basically sold out Key Arena, and they never averaged less than 14,300 fans from 1991-2007, their next-to-last season in town. The city and surrounding area has a rich tradition of producing NBA talent, including current players Isaiah Thomas, Jamal Crawford, Jason Terry, Marvin Williams, Spencer Hawes, Rodney Stuckey and Aaron Brooks. “Seattle is a far better market than at least 10 NBA cities,” said a very high ranking executive of one of the league’s 29 teams last week.

The other night I reached out to a lot of media and league people in my contact list and simply asked, “Is expansion on the table?” I had 57 people respond, 14 of those either did not comment or said they didn’t know. That leaves 43 other responses. Some that really jumped out were: “With no arena, you’d get 14, maybe 16, votes toward expansion.” “I’ve heard there are 14 definitely for it.” “It [expansion] is definitely on the table and being discussed.” “There are two who are fully no, everyone else can have their mind changed.”

I’ve heard that once the CBA is finished, the expansion bidding could be announced as soon as December or as late as the All-Star Game in February. There are going to be numerous other cities competing with Seattle to get the expansion franchises as well. I do not know if there is just going to be one slot or two. Other cities I’ve heard that are going to be making a play for expansion are Louisville (they have all their affairs in order and ready to go), Pittsburgh, Omaha, Las Vegas, Vancouver, BC, and Mexico City. Kansas City and St. Louis have been brought up as well, but I can’t confirm the validity of their interest.

Raul Barrigon: Brian Windhorst on the Kings keeping the franchise in Sacramento instead of Seattle having a team again: “Basically the NBA owners took a bribe… That’s a little bit of a crude term, but basically took a bribe that they wouldn’t have to give revenue sharing to Sacramento. In turn, allowed the Kings to put together a very weak ownership group. The offer from Seattle was a much more stable and stronger ownership group, with Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer.”

But it was clear coming back to the town where his NBA career began sparked some emotion within the four-time NBA scoring champ. Because Seattleites aren’t the only ones who fantasize about what Durant could have done in this city — Durant does, too. “When the Seahawks won the title, and I was with the Thunder, and we were playing well, I was imagining how the city would have felt with both teams here,” Durant said. “It would have been electric. It would have been something we’ve never seen before — something no city has seen before. But we can dream, man.”

It ain’t over yet. That’s if you believe property records that show Chris Hansen just completed another big purchase in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood. According to those records, Hansen — the San Francisco-based investor who’s leading the charge to bring professional basketball back to Seattle — paid $32 million for a warehouse and other connected buildings that border S. Holgate Street. The property, more than 4 acres in size, stretches from S. Holgate Street all the way south to Walker Street. The price paid by Hansen’s company is nearly three times the assessed value. His company, known as WSA Properties, now owns close to $100 million of property in the SoDo neighborhood. One source close to the dealings said, “This is still all about the Sonics.”

Ballmer had partnered with entrepreneur Chris Hansen on his Sodo District arena project but left that group two years ago to buy the Clippers for $2 billion. “It’s just not likely to happen,” Ballmer told those attending the conference. “There has been no discussion about expansion since I have been involved with the league. So, I don’t think that will happen. The league has really moved to favor teams staying in their current markets. You’d have to find a team that’s at the end of their (arena) lease, where it looks hard to build an arena and where they’ve tried really hard to build an arena. “And you’d have to show that an arena can get built in Seattle,” he added. “Because unlike most other cities that build an arena before they have a team, I don’t think an arena is going to get built here before a team comes here unless it gets done in the context of hockey.”
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