When the Oklahoma City Thunder went on a 9-0 run in the last 2:08 to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 and go up 2-0 in the Western Conference Semifinals, you could almost hear the collective shrieks coming out of the city of Seattle.
“That should be us…”
On Wednesday, however, Seattle should have been in the mood to celebrate one small NBA victory. They at least moved closer to getting back in the NBA game when arena investor Chris Hansen and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn stood united in announcing a memorandum of understanding on financing of a new NBA — and NHL — arena in Seattle.
As good as gold, the memorandum is between the owners of the new arena and local government. All that is missing now is an NBA team to occupy.
And that just might be the bigger obstacle to overcome.
Here’s how the dollar and cents shake out.
The city of Seattle and King County would contribute $200 million to construction of a new arena south of Safeco Field: $120 million from Seattle and $80 million from King County in the form of bond loans. But if no NHL team can be secured in the process, only $120 million in public money would go to the new arena project, with the county’s contribution capped at $5 million and Seattle still needing to fork over $120 million.
Cha-ching. That is a hefty chunk of change when it comes to luring two major sports franchises to town.
But Hansen and company have come this far and don’t appear to be in the business of turning back from making a dream come true in Seattle.
Back in mid-February, Hansen privately revealed his news sports arena plan in a meeting with McCinn and much has progressed in the past four months. The arena construction cost is estimated at $490 million (paid for by the $200 million in public funds and $290 million more from Hansen and his investment group) and upon completion would seat 17,500 people for NHL games, 18,500 people for NBA games, and 19,000 for concerts and other events.
So where does Hansen go from here?
The plan is to acquire an NBA team and find a partner to acquire an NHL team to relocate to Seattle, and anytime you mention “acquire an NBA team” and “Seattle” in the same sentence, the automatic thought turns to the Sacramento Kings whose future remain in a state of disarray after the city of Sacramento and the Maloof Family stand at odds on getting a new arena done deal there.
Hansen maintains he is cognizant that dragging an existing NBA franchise away from a city is not the end goal in all of this, but it very likely could come down to that. And after everything that has transpired between the Kings and the City of Sacramento, perhaps the Maloofs selling the team — something they’ve been opposed to — may just be their wisest move of late.
Last month, a group of 21 Sacramento business people sent a letter to the NBA asking it to consider new ownership for the Sacramento Kings, but even now that letter is being scrutinized. Apparently five of the 21 signatures on the letter were not the signatures of the people whose names are listed as the business people from Sacramento and even more heat is being thrown at Mayor Kevin Johnson from the Maloof family.
This is not going to end well.
But Seattle and Hansen just might be there to pick up the loose pieces.