NBA Commissioner David Stern said Tuesday that he is open to the league returning to Seattle and acknowledged a meeting he had a year ago with Christopher Hansen, the man who’s trying to get it done.
The Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday published an exclusive with David Stern, where he detailed the effort to bring back pro hoops to the land of coffee beans, flannel shirts and inclement weather:
“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 [...]
“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.
Hansen, a 44-year-old hedge-fun manager in San Francisco and native of Seattle, has been working behind-the-scenes to construct a new arena in the vicinity of Safeco Field in hopes of luring another NBA team.
The Seattle Times acquired e-mails Hansen wrote to city officials outlining his plan, which mention ways in which an arena can be built without being dependent on taxpayers:
Hansen offered to provide information on “recent municipal arena deals that have been put together and some of the direct and indirect contributions that the city can make that don’t require incremental taxes or direct public funding.”
That same Seattle Times report mentions the possibility of the Sacramento Kings relocating to the city as soon as next season. Sacramento has until an NBA-imposed March 1 deadline to finalize a financial proposal for a new downtown arena for the Kings.
If Sacramento fails, the Kings could be playing in Seattle next fall if the city and Hansen reach an agreement, according to a Seattle City Hall source who has been briefed on the matter. [...]
The Kings are owned by Joe and Gavin Maloof, who have run into some well-documented financial issues in recent years, specifically concerning their investment in the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, and they are pressing for a new arena to be built immediately or to relocate the team somewhere it will make more money.
Seattle lost Kevin Durant the Sonics in 2008 to Oklahoma City, where they became the Thunder and will presumably take over the world by 2013.
KeyArena, which was deemed by the NBA and Thunder owner Clay Bennett an unsuitable permanent home for the Sonics, could be a temporary home until a new arena is constructed.
While the plan by Hansen, who also makes me immediately think of this guy, is meant to attract an NBA franchise, it also opens the opportunity for the city to lure an NHL franchise as well. Many speculate the league-owned Phoenix Coyotes, who are in dire fiscal trouble — essentially the NHL’s version of the New Orleans Hornets, could be a possibility.
So, Seattle could possibly go from having no NBA team to having both an NBA team AND and NHL team. Now, if only they could have an MLB team.