Fans of the former Seattle SuperSonics have ample reason to hold NBA Commissioner David Stern in low esteem, given his serial double-talk about the franchise over the years. But Stern this week issued his most optimistic assessment yet of Seattle becoming a league city again when queried by a Romanian reporter during Stern's visit to Milan, Italy.
The reporter asked Stern, "Regarding the new Seattle arena, is there a chance that during the next five years there will be an expansion team, a new Seattle SuperSonics?"
Replied Stern: "The answer is there seems to be plans moving along for a new arena in Seattle. There was general agreement in the past that Seattle needed a new arena. It would be my hope that within that time frame that you mentioned -- five years -- that if everything works out perfectly there would be a new arena and a new team in Seattle.
"That's always for the NBA Board of Governors (owners), but I know that many governors are favorably inclined."
Monday, the Seattle city and King County councils will take their final votes to approve an agreement with hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, who has committed about $290 million to the $490 million arena project. The votes are forecasted to be there. As an environmental impact study gets underway, estimated to take a year, Hansen's next task will be to acquire a team to play in the building.
Unless the NBA opts for another round of expansion, which according to Stern's previous statements, is unlikely, Hansen will have to acquire an existing team, which begs the question: