Could Seattle Get Screwed Out Of A Supersonics Return Yet Again?

The Supersonics saga has been a long and winding road dating back to 2008 when they left for OKC. There’s been a crazy number of developments along the way, from Chris Hansen buying all that property in SoDo, to him getting an ownership group together and trying to buy the Kings, to the city and county essentially strong-arming him out of the arena process entirely in favor of fixing up the arena at Seattle Center. In the meantime, we now have that arena up and running, we’ve got a major tenant for that arena in the Kraken, but there’s still obviously room for both the NBA and NHL to coexist in the same building.

Also, you can say the city of Seattle and its demographics have changed considerably in the last 15 years. For good and for ill, Seattle is starting to resemble San Francisco in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of money here now. This is an area of tremendous growth. With the arena situation settled, seems like a perfect opportunity to reintroduce the NBA to a market we all know will support a basketball team.

Once we got the arena built, most everyone in the know has deemed it a foregone conclusion that Seattle would be the beneficiary of an expansion franchise. First, we needed the arena. Then, the NBA needed to sign a new CBA. They did that, now it’s up to the NBA signing a new media rights deal. By all accounts, we should get that probably in 2024. Then, it’s open season. Have cities make their bids, get ownership groups vetted, choose two, bada bing, bada boom.

I have no doubt that’s what’s next. I mean, you’re hearing it from the horse’s mouth in commissioner Adam Silver. It’s just a process, gotta wait it out.

I tend to have SOME doubts, however, that it’s just going to be Vegas and Seattle and let’s call it a day.

For starters, I’d love to know – anecdotally – which market is more coveted, Vegas or Seattle. I would like to believe Seattle leads that list, but Vegas is very much also a city on the rise, with a lot of local wealth. The Golden Knights opened in 2017. The Raiders moved there in 2020. The Athletics appear to be joining the Raiders in abandoning Oakland for Vegas, and the state of Nevada has already approved a new baseball stadium. That’s three, with the NBA likely completing the set in the next round of expansion.

You know what kind of vibe I get from the city of Las Vegas and the state of Nevada? These are places that know how to get things done. You know what vibe I get from Seattle and King County? Nothing but fucking bullshit gridlock and obstruction, for every facet of life, not just my beloved professional sports. We can’t figure out transportation, we’ve utterly failed the homeless population, we’re riddled with drug addicts and mentally ill, there’s zero affordable housing. But I’m supposed to trust this region to figure out how to bring my Sonics back? Okay.

The Mitch Unfiltered podcast this week had a great interview with a writer for The Athletic, and he brought up a good point about Mexico City being a possible expansion market. I know the NBA is also huge in Asia and Europe. Wouldn’t any one of those foreign markets be a bigger selling point for greedy NBA owners and even greedier media conglomerates?

Clearly, Seattle is the nostalgic choice. It’s the city that has been most wronged among all the bigtime professional sports, that hasn’t had its situation rectified yet. The Browns got a new team. Winnipeg got a new team. Baltimore got its team back (albeit from Cleveland), New Orleans got its franchise back. The only other city that comes close to the level of being fucked over is probably Montreal with the Expos.

But, you know what? Nostalgia doesn’t pay the bills. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Seattle might be more valuable as a threat against other teams and other cities, to pony up for new arenas or risk losing your team forever. Nostalgia doesn’t put more money in the pockets of billionaires, who don’t give two shits about Seattle or any other city, except the one that makes them that much more richer.

It almost makes too much sense to give one of the expansion franchises to a foreign market. At that point, now you’re down to one, and you’re probably deciding between Seattle and Vegas. Who’s going to play ball? Who’s going to be easier to work with? Who’s not extremely far away in the Pacific Northwest? Where would you rather visit, super-fun Vegas or rainy-ass Seattle? Besides, Portland already has a team, this part of the country is covered.

(This is me projecting on the powers that be; not what I actually believe. But, you know, assholes gonna asshole)

I don’t have a lot of faith in people and entities at this level of wealth. I could come up with the most rational argument for why Seattle is the ideal choice, but it’s going to fall on deaf ears.

I also can’t help but wonder what effect the impending Seahawks sale is going to have on all this. I don’t have all the specifics, but apparently Jodi Allen is compelled to sell the Seahawks at some point (even though a lot of us would rather she just hang onto it, rather than risk the team falling into the wrong hands, but that’s a worry for another day), and that point might come in 2024 or shortly thereafter. I don’t remember what exactly the deal is, but it has something to do with Allen and the trust getting full value for the sale, vs. having to share a portion with the county or city or something? I dunno. The point is, the Seahawks are going to be for sale, and it might be around the same time that the NBA is looking for people to buy into a potential expansion franchise in Seattle. What are we talking about, something around $5 billion per franchise? Where’s all this money coming from?

Of course, I’m sure there’s no shortage of suitors for an NFL franchise, but does that make a potential NBA franchise a consolation prize? How is the NBA going to feel about that? Is Chris Hansen still in play? Or has he been blackballed after the shenanigans with the Kings? Does Jeff Bezos have any interest in either sport? From a money perspective, it seems ideal to have one of the richest guys in the world interested in ownership.

I might just be worrying about nothing. Maybe that’s it; I sure hope so. But, I can’t help this feeling that we won’t see the Supersonics return to Seattle. Maybe if all this had gone down 3-5 years ago, momentum would be on our side. But, there are too many ways this can all be fucked up. I won’t believe it’s going to happen until they’re literally tipping the ball up in whatever local arena ends up housing this team. We’ve been burned too many fucking times to get all cocky now.

One thought on “Could Seattle Get Screwed Out Of A Supersonics Return Yet Again?

  1. If I remember correctly wasn’t one of the NBA’s big issues with Seattle that they found the Key Arena/Climate pledge to be too small and that it being in the Seattle Center limited options for building additional monetization opportunities?

    Id be interested to see how the Silver regime handles this compared to the Stern regime.

    Fuck Clay Bennett Fuck Howard Schultz

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