Sunday, February 5, 2012

Seattle on the verge of being a five-sport city

There have been rumblings concerning prospective arena builders in the Seattle area for months now. Today, The Seattle Times featured an article in prime position of their Sunday edition, detailing the efforts of a group "possessed" in building a new Sodo arena and bringing NBA and NHL to the Emerald City.

Led by Seattle native hedge-fund manager Christopher Hansen, the group has bought a tract of land just south of the Safeco Field parking garage, and says that there will be no need to worry about "eminent domain" seizures from the city. That suggests that earlier worries about possible business holdouts at the proposed Sodo arena site are no longer a concern.

It also appears that this arena option is much farther along than the rumored Don Levin arena on the eastside. That doesn't proclude Levin from being an NHL owner in Hansen's building, nor from contributing to the Sodo arena financially.

More after the break:

Speaking of finances, Mayor Mike McGinn (writing the book on pleasing sports fans in a way Greg Nickels never could) has come out and said any new arena will comply with the 2006 law requiring city funding on sports buildings to make a profit. This would likely include a tax on visiting athletes like other cities have done to fund their arenas.

Even more interesting are two different sources saying that Seattle's new teams could arrive in town sooner rather than later. First, the above-linked article claims that if a new arena deal isn't made in Sacramento (home of the Kings and their financially-strapped owners, the Maloof brothers) that their franchise could become the Seattle Supersonics by the start of the 2012-2013 season. According to the article, the team would be cleared to use Key Arena for two years until a new building is built.

Next, the National Hockey League wants and expects the Phoenix Coyotes (currently owned by the league)  to be sold by the end of the current season, which would be sometime in June. Reports have also indicated on that end from multiple sources that Key Arena could act as a temporary solution for any moving team, though the Key is far from ideal for the sport.

Basketball's return would mark the end of the NBA's five-year absence from the Emerald City, when the Seattle Supersonics moved to Oklahoma City at the behest of owner Clay Bennett. For hockey, it's been nearly a century since the Seattle Metropolitans were the first US team to win the Stanley Cup.

  • We don't want the Kings. Sacramento has always been a great basketball town, with good (albeit relatively brief) history. And they are currently the second-closest rivals Seattle NBA has. Sports leagues put too few teams up here in the sea of forest, and if there's any chance to keep basketball in Sacramento (their only team) I'd rather wait a few more years to see the Sonics return. If I could pick one team to take that I wouldn't feel bad about, it would be the Milwaukee Bucks. They have all the same problems as the Kings, with the added benefit that THEY STOLE THE PILOTS (MLB) FROM US. Of course, just taking the Thunder back would be the best. 
  • For this blog, the most important thing we believe any new NBA owner should know is that this city wants exclusive rights to its history. We don't like seeing OKC powder blue shirts with the year 1967 on them. We also DON'T want to take Sacramento's history away from them. We don't want their stats. We don't want their banners. My hope is that Sacramento gets another team some day, when a new arena is more feasible for them. To that end, everything of theirs remains theirs. 
  • Payton. Kemp. In the rafters. DAY ONE. 
  • Bring back the Totems. Seattle is a city that values its sports history. When MLS Seattle was announced in 2007, the new ownership wanted to start fresh, with names like Seattle Republic, Seattle Alliance, and Seattle FC. Public outcry was enormous, so they put it up to a vote. SEATTLE SOUNDERS won by a landslide, drawing memories from the days when NASL soccer drew in excess of 20,000 in the Kingdome. All five of Seattle's past teams have been named via fan vote, and no one is going to vote to keep the Coyotes name. There's really three options;
    • Seattle Metropolitans. Drawing on the history of the first-ever Stanley Cup by an american team is a great idea, but that history is so old (we're coming up on the century mark) that few people remain that might have seen a game. Their colors were ugly, and I don't think that name should be a predicate on whether that Stanley Cup banner is raised on the first day of the 2017 season.
    • Seattle Thunderbirds. Dissolving the minor league team to make way for the pros worked well for the Sounders, so why not for the NHL? The biggest problem I see is having the exact same colors as our natural rivals to the north in Vancouver. On the plus side, the Thunderbird and Whale analogies to the Cascadia rivalry would be excellent.  Other than that, I'd love to see the Thunderbirds tradition continue.  
    • Seattle Totems. My favorite choice, the Totems name is no longer in use and referenced a much higher level of minor league hockey than the squad we have today. Using the totems name would allow the Thunderbird-Whale scheme to stay intact. And the Green-Black-White color scheme is exactly what I want from Seattle's future sweaters. 
  • Give some consideration to the Emerald City Center. It would be expensive, but a basketball-hockey arena with a retractable roof would be a feature unique to the city of Seattle, with so many great possibilities. Hockey outside on every dry day? How great does that sound? It'd be like the winter classic every few weeks. Put concerts and other events outside, widening the number of events any new arena can hose and maximizing the building's value. 
  • I sincerely hope that Vancouver gets basketball back in the near future (and maybe hockey in Portland?) Soccer has shown that there is a real, thriving rivalry between the three cities, and the key to making a sport work is to make the fans get emotionally invested.  

1 comment:

  1. I recently wrote a blog entry about this. If you are intersted. It is an outsider's perspective but may be worth a read if you have the time: