SEATTLE - D-Day in Dallas left Seattle investors disappointed with a capital D.
So is expansion the ‘Plan B’?
“I think they’d be dumb to ignore Seattle any longer,” said "Sonicsgate" director Jason Reid, who points to comments from the NBA’s Deputy Commissioner as a sign expansion will now be seriously considered.
Adam Silver, who will take over as NBA Commissioner next February, told reporters last Wednesday: “The league continues to enjoy strong support in the Seattle market. We have strong support for our telecast, our national telecast in Seattle, and expansion was discussed at least as a possibility down the road.”
The comments came after NBA owners voted 22-8 to reject Chris Hansen’s purchase and move of the Sacramento Kings franchise to Seattle, effectively killing the deal. The league later negotiated a deal to sell the Kings to a Sacramento based investment group.
“Eight owners, think in spite of the recommendation, it was a good idea the Kings move to Seattle. I think that’s a hopeful sign for Seattle, not a bad one,” says Michael McCann, Director of the University of New Hampshire’s Sports and Entertainment Law Institute. But, the NBA TV contributor says he was not surprised owners made no promise to Hansen. “The league can’t make the promise right now, because there is a formal process. (A) committee would study the issue, look at the pros and cons, and come to a recommendation for the Board of Governors.”
They will likely, says McCann, wait until the new TV and digital rights contract is determined. The Sports Business Journal has reported the league is looking to renegotiate the terms two years early, before it is due to expire in 2016. McCann says discussions may shed light on whether adding Seattle as a franchise makes economic sense for the league.
“If the pie is going to be bigger because you bring in the 12th largest TV market, it could be a bigger piece for everyone,” says McCann, who discounts a watered down talent pool as an argument against expansion. “Ratings have gone up while the number of teams have grown. So if they play is so bad because of expansion. Why haven’t people turned off their televisions?”
Hansen, and his group, have not publicly revealed their next move. It is unclear if they will still try to close a deal on the 7% of the Kings which was acquired through bankruptcy court, put it back up for auction, or sell. A source close the group says it is still unclear if it plans on accepting a refund of the one-time $30 million dollar ‘non-refundable’ down payment. If the group was to reject it, for whatever reason, it will mean they have spent more than $100 million dollars in its effort to bring an NBA team to Seattle without a resolution.
McCann believes Hansen may be hesitating on the $30 million dollar decision to “preserve a legal right” depending on the expansion question.
Reid says he is not dropped his remote, or desire yet.
“They are in it to win it,” says Reid, “(It) might just take a little bit longer than I expected.”