Mayor Mike McGinn met with NBA Commissioner David Stern in New York City this afternoon to tell him that the city wants to return professional basketball to Seattle.
McGinn spokesman Aaron Pickus confirmed the meeting via email: “We met so the mayor could show his commitment to bringing an NBA team back to Seattle.”
The visit came as a surprise to local representatives of Chris Hansen, the San Francisco hedge-fund manager who is proposing to spend up to $800 million to partially finance a new arena and buy an NBA team.
Rollin Fatland, a spokesman for Hansen, said he didn’t know anything about the meeting.
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“What the hell is that about?” Fatland asked. “I’m not aware that anyone asked him to do it.”
Pickus said the meeting was part of an East Coast work trip. The mayor is heading to Washington D.C. next, and then to Orlando for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
The city and county councils are currently considering an agreement reached between Hansen, the city and King County to build a nearly $500 million state-of-the art sports and entertainment venue in the Sodo neighborhood. The public contribution would be capped at $200 million, if a National Hockey League team also is secured.
Both councils have heard concerns from the Port of Seattle and maritime industries that the proposed location could hurt freight mobility and the long-term viability of the city’s dominant industrial area south of downtown.
Both Councils must give their approval to the agreement before Hansen can go shopping for an NBA team. McGinn had been negotiating with Hansen on an arena deal since last July and supports the proposal.