Seattle is just one street-vacation vote away from being in a position to tell the NBA we’re ready to take advantage of an NBA franchise that could become available before any KeyArena renovation could be completed.
WHEN I got the call from the Seahawks in 2012, I didn’t know a great deal about Seattle. I knew it rained a lot here, or so people said, and I of course knew all about the Seahawks, Mariners and Storm. I also knew a lot about the Seattle SuperSonics, since I had spent countless hours showering my brother with dunks as the “Reign Man” in the video game “NBA Jam.”
Now it’s hard for me to imagine calling any place but Seattle home. My family and I have planted roots here, and as those roots grow I want to invest in something great for my city. Being part of an NBA ownership group and bringing the Sonics back — a team I loved as a kid — makes perfect sense.
When I joined the Sodo-arena investment group in November, I needed a crash course in all the work that had already been done before I came on the scene.
It was a big list.
Since first announcing the plans, our investment group had spent more than $100 million to acquire land in Seattle’s stadium district. We invested in a lengthy environmental review, traffic and parking studies, economic impact studies and a study of KeyArena.
Beyond investment dollars, our group had refined the proposal based on recommendations from both the Seattle Arena Review Panel and King County Expert Review Panel, received recommended approval for a street vacation from the Seattle Design Review Commission and the Seattle Department of Transportation, and worked with the Mariners, Sounders and my own Seahawks to hammer out cooperative scheduling agreements.
Our investment group made a bid on the only NBA franchise to come up for sale since the whole process started and has had discussions with potential NHL ownership groups. And most recently we agreed to remove public financing from the project and build the arena entirely with private resources, while also contributing millions to transportation projects in the Sodo neighborhood.
Now, after all this work, Seattle is just one street-vacation vote away from being in a position to tell the NBA and NHL we’re finally ready for their leagues.
That doesn’t mean we’re ready to start building as soon as the street vacation is granted. Rather, we will be ready to vacate the street and begin to build only when a team has been acquired. Put another way, no team means no street vacation and no arena. It’s as simple as that.
Ever since it was first reported that the city was going to explore options for a revamp of KeyArena, our team has been asked whether those plans conflict with our plans for an arena in the stadium district. Our answer is: No.
Approving the street vacation in no way interferes with the KeyArena Request for Proposal process. What it does do is put the city in the best possible position to take advantage of franchise opportunities that could well become available before any five- to seven-year KeyArena renovation could be completed.
Additionally, should the city decide to redevelop KeyArena as a music-only venue, the Sodo arena will be ready to welcome the NBA and NHL.
I joined with Chris Hansen, Wally Walker, and Erik and Pete Nordstrom because I believe in the solid plan this committed, local group has put together. It’s a major investment — for all of us in the group — but I truly believe that building a state-of-the-art arena alongside our city’s other great stadiums is Seattle’s best shot at bringing the NBA and NHL back to Seattle.
Right now, I’m blessed to play a sport I love for a living.
Playing a part in bringing the Sonics back will be another blessing, one that will leave a long-lasting impression on me and the city I love.