It’s official – former Sonic Kevin Durant will help close KeyArena in Seattle.
The Sacramento Kings officially announced their pre-season schedule Thursday, and it includes a matchup with the Golden State Warriors and Durant at KeyArena on Friday, October 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams had previously announced that the game was slated to be the final event at KeyArena before demolition begins and construction starts on a $600 million “New Arena at Seattle Center.”
The venue has not hosted an NBA game since the Sonics left Seattle in 2008, and will be the rare exhibition game dripping with subplots.
Investor Chris Hansen had a purchase agreement to move the Kings to Seattle in 2013, until the NBA rejected the deal in favor of keeping the team in Sacramento.
Durant is one of the last active Sonics and has returned multiple times to the city since the franchise moved to Oklahoma City.
It’s unclear if the NBA will use the event as a barometer of support for the league in the jilted city, but Warriors President Rick Welts is a native of Seattle and former Sonics ball boy. He has been instrumental in trying to bring the exhibition contest to his hometown.
The City Council is expected to get an update on the new arena project next week, which from all accounts appears to still be on track for an October start. The Oak View Group, which signed a memorandum of understanding with the City, hopes to open the new arena by October 2020 in time to host an NHL expansion franchise.
That application for the NHL team could be considered by the league for a vote as early as September.