On the eve of the NBA Finals that has the former Seattle SuperSonics team meeting the Miami Heat, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn delivered a personal message in New York to NBA Commissioner David Stern, saying the city is interested in having the league come back.
McGinn's spokesman, Aaron Pickus, said McGinn met with Stern Monday. McGinn has put considerable political capital behind the proposal of Chris Hansen to build a $490 million arena in SoDo to replace the Sonics, whose owners in 2008 bought out the final two years of the KeyArena lease to move to Oklahoma City and become the Thunder.
Hansen, a Seattle native and San Francisco hedge-fund manager who did not attend the meeting, wants NBA and NHL teams to populate the 18,500 seat arena. He seeks what amounts to a $200 million loan from the city and King County if teams from both leagues relocate here.
League spokesman Tim Frank said the meeting between Stern and McGinn lasted about an hour.
“We had a pleasant and informative meeting,” Frank said by email to KING5.com. “The commissioner is personally supportive of his efforts.”
The plan is facing opposition from the Port of Seattle, the Mariners and maritime and industrial businesses because of the potential impact the district would feel from more traffic.
The City Council and King County Council are holding hearings on the proposal, and could vote as soon as August. Hansen said he wants an NBA team first, but even if the arena were approved, the likelihood is small that a team could be moved to a temporary home at KeyArena this fall. The Sonics were moved at the end of June, 2008, but had an NBA-ready arena waiting in Oklahoma City.