Seattle has been without an NBA team since the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008, but some community leaders want to change that.
According to the Seattle Times, a meeting to discuss a potential new arena is slated for May 13 and will include local developers, NAACP executives, community leaders and "potentially" even Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
News of the meeting broke in unusual fashion Friday night, after the Warriors defeated the Clippers to win their first-round playoff series. A Los Angeles reporter asked Kevin Durant, who played as a rookie in Seattle and has been known to rock a SuperSonics throwback jersey on occasion, if he would support Seattle's efforts to land an NBA team.
“Since we left, I’ve been screaming that a team needs to go there, so yeah," Durant said.
Yet the upcoming meeting apparently was meant to fly under the radar. City leaders and an NBA spokesman told the Times they were unaware of the meeting. And local developer Chris Hansen, who is trying to build an arena to attract a new team, did not return a request for comment.
Hansen has been trying for several years to get the city to sell him land in the underdeveloped Sodo district for an arena. But the city has refused, leery of creating competition for the city-owned KeyArena. The Sonics' former home, built in 1962, is undergoing a $900 million renovation scheduled for completion in 2021.
While the primary tenants at present are set to be Seattle's new NHL team, which will begin play in 2021, and the WNBA's Seattle Storm, the arena could also accommodate an NBA team.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver noted last year there are no immediate plans for expansion ("I'm very focused on creating a competitive 30-team league," he said), but many feel the league will inevitably add new franchises. Seattle is generally regarded as one of the most likely expansion cities. And league officials are believed to view an arena built specifically for an NBA team, such as Hansen has proposed, as a much more suitable facility than one shared with other tenants.
According to the Times, local community leader Abin Nellams says the NAACP is organizing the upcoming meeting with the purpose of putting "pressure on Mayor and the council members" to sell land to Hansen for a new arena. A website for the arena coalition, SonicsArena.com, issued a statement last week proposing the arena issue be put on the ballot this fall.
It's not Hansen's first bid to bring an NBA team back to Seattle. He reached an agreement in early 2013 to buy the Sacramento Kings and move them to Seattle, but that proposed deal was nixed by the NBA Board of Governors in April 2013.