Nearly a year after its reopening, Climate Pledge Arena has hosted nearly 40 NHL games, 23 WNBA matchups, 10 NCAA men’s basketball contests and an array of concerts.

On Friday night the $1.15 billion venue located in lower Queen Anne welcomes the NBA when the Los Angeles Clippers play Maccabi Ra’anana of the Israeli National League.

And three days later, the Clippers face the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday in a game billed as the “Rain City Showcase.”

“Just the buzz, the energy, the excitement, the unifying element in this city,” Mayor Bruce Harrell said in June when the Portland-L.A. game was announced. “This kind of revitalization if you will. This kind of noise brings our city back.”

Monday’s game is the first exhibition between two NBA teams in Seattle since former Sonics rookie Kevin Durant returned with the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 5, 2018.

Before beating the Sacramento Kings 122-94, Durant wore a Shawn Kemp No. 40 Sonics jersey during the starting lineup introductions, which whipped the sellout crowd of 17,074 at KeyArena into a frenzy.


“First off, I want to give a shout out to the Seattle Storm for holding it down and winning a championship,” Durant said in a pregame address to the fans while standing at midcourt. “Much love. On behalf of myself, the NBA and my organization and my teammates we’d like to thank you guys for coming out and supporting us.

“I know it’s been a rough 10 years. The NBA is back in Seattle for tonight, but hopefully it’s back forever soon.”

Fourteen years after the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City in 2008, the NBA appears to be nearing a decision to bring the Sonics back to Seattle.

Rumors ran rampant a few weeks ago when a tweet from a freelance reporter citing unnamed sources reported the league was going to make a formal announcement at Monday’s game naming Seattle and Las Vegas as expansion teams.

However, the reporter, Willie Ramirez, deleted the tweet, and league sources have since indicated there are no immediate plans to expand, which coincides with what NBA commissioner Adam Silver said at the NBA Finals in June.

Silver admitted the league would “invariably expand” but added there were no plans “at this time.”


Seattle and Las Vegas are widely considered the top two candidates when the league increases to 32 teams, which explains why both cities are hosting two preseason games this season.

The Los Angeles Lakers will play exhibitions at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Wednesday and Thursday while Seattle becomes the home away from home for Clippers over the next four days.

Seattle’s 41-year history (1967-2008) with the NBA puts it at the top of the league’s expansion list as well as the newly constructed Climate Pledge, which is home to the Kraken, Storm and Seattle University men’s basketball team.

“I think they’re going to experience a world-class facility,” SU athletic director Shaney Fink said when asked about the Clippers’ upcoming games at Climate Pledge. “It’s built for an NBA basketball team, and they’re going to have a great experience.

“I focus first on the fan experience, because I think that does impact the overall experience for the athletes. There’s not a bad seat in the house. A lot of great energy. You can feel it bouncing off the walls. Every detail is set for the fan and for that experience. I think the players will feel that.”

This year, the Storm led the WNBA in attendance while averaging 10,631 fans. They drew a franchise-high 18,100 for Sue Bird’s final regular-season game Aug. 7.

“Climate Pledge exceeded my expectations,” Bird said. “Don’t get me wrong, I love KeyArena and have some great memories there … but this place was built with basketball in mind. They really thought of everything from the players to the fans.

“We’re fortunate to call it home, and I’m sure the next NBA team, hopefully the Sonics, will feel the same way.”