Posts Tagged ‘Seattle’

seattle-sonics

Seattle could someday have an NBA team again.

In a Players’ Tribune interview with Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard C.J. McCollum last week, commissioner Adam Silver said it’s possible the league will bring a franchise back to the city, but he doesn’t know when.

“I think it’s just a question of when the right time is to seriously start thinking about expansion,” said Silver.

“I don’t want to put a precise timeline on it, but it’s inevitable at some point that we’ll start looking at the growth of franchises. That’s always been the case in this league, and Seattle will no doubt be on a short list of cities we’ll look at,” he added.

The Seattle SuperSonics entered the league in 1967-68 and captured an NBA championship in 1979. The club relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008 and became the Thunder.

Several Sonics greats have been strong proponents of the city regaining a team. Gary Payton said last year that Seattle “deserves” an NBA team and he’d be interested in becoming an owner, while Ray Allen echoed those sentiments in May.

“I still can’t believe that there is no basketball in Seattle,” he wrote in a post on Instagram. “This city is too great not to have a hoops squad. Come on everybody we need to rally and bring the NBA back to Seattle.”

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Seattle hockey fans shouldn’t hold their breath.

Despite the city beginning negotiations for a possible renovation of KeyArena, there is no guarantee the NHL will soon set up shop in Seattle.

“We haven’t made any commitments to Seattle,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told NHL Network Radio on Wednesday. “We’re not making any commitments to expand. We’re not planning on moving anybody.”

Seattle has long been rumored as a future destination for the NHL. However, due in part to no NHL-ready arena in the city, Seattle did not submit a bid during the 2015 expansion process. The NHL received proposals from Las Vegas and Quebec City, with Las Vegas chosen to begin play next season.

Still, the commissioner didn’t rule out of the possibility of the NHL looking at Seattle in the years to come.

“If (Seattle) sorts out the building arrangement and somebody actually puts a shovel in the ground, my guess is there will be people knocking on our door saying, ‘We’d like to have a team play in that building,'” Bettman said. “If and when all that happens, then we’ll focus on it, and decide if we have any interest in expanding and if we have any interest in expanding to Seattle.

“Beyond that, there is no reason for anyone to think a team is imminent right now in Seattle.”

In February, the Arizona Coyotes denied a report the team explored the possibility of relocation to Seattle. The NHL, which held ownership of the Coyotes for a four-year period beginning in 2009, has remained steadfast about the market and franchise, much as it did with the Nashville Predators.

In 2007, former Research In Motion CEO Jim Balsillie attempted to gain control of the Predators and relocate the team to Hamilton, Ontario before a group of local business owners stepped forward to keep the team in Tennessee. Now, 10 years later and the Predators are two wins away from capturing the Stanley Cup, marking both of their victories in the Finals before packed and enthusiastic crowds at Bridgestone Arena.

“Sometimes, the commentary around our franchises is a little too frenetic when it comes to the state of a franchise,” Bettman added. “If you think about Tampa before (owner) Jeff Vinik purchased it, Pittsburgh before Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux stepped … the fact is, our teams are in great markets, but as franchises, as businesses, as hockey teams, you sometimes go through difficult periods.

“It doesn’t mean the market isn’t a good hockey market or won’t support the team. There are sometimes other factors at play, and our goal is always to work through those issues and give the great, loyal fans that have supported our team in a particular place an opportunity to make it work for them.”

Should the NHL add its 32nd team to Seattle, local hockey fans will have a little hockey history on their side. While the city has never iced an NHL team, it is home to the WHL’s Thunderbirds. Furthermore, the Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association were the first American team to win the Stanley Cup, doing so in 1917.

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Build it and they may come.

Amidst his Western Canada media tour, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was in Vancouver on Thursday and spoke about the possibility of an NHL future in bordering Seattle.

“There’s been a lot of talk for a long period of time about a building or not, and frankly if the city ever gets it act together on a building, then maybe there will be a reason for us to focus on it,” Bettman told reporters. “I’m not saying it will happen if there is a reason, but there’s no reason to focus on it in the absence of a building.”

Local businessman Chris Hansen has been connected with building a new arena in the city, but with a focus on returning the NBA to Seattle. The SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008.

Seattle has often been mentioned as a new market for the NHL, and an addition in the Pacific Northwest would create a natural rival for the Canucks.

The city has a rich history of hockey. In 1917, the Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup. Forty-five years later, KeyArena opened and played host to the WHL’s Thunderbirds from 1985 to 2008, when the team left for nearby Kent.

In the meantime, a local Seattle group, led by Tim Leiweke, who has previously been part of both the NHL and NBA, wants to renovate KeyArena in order to accelerate the city’s efforts in attracting a pro team.

Leiweke told Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times that he believes KeyArena can be brought up to par in three to four years. It’s a similar time frame to the construction of the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, which broke ground in 2014 and will open to the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights next season.

Still, Leiweke was quick to add Seattle will need to build its team through expansion, noting neither the NHL or NBA sees a franchise relocation on the horizon.

“We believe that there is no franchise today in the NHL or in the NBA that is in danger of being lost as an opportunity over the next few years,” Lieweke told Baker. “And we believe that should Gary Bettman make a decision to expand, that if you look at the last process they just went through, it was a three- to four-year process to get that building built and to get that (Las Vegas) team up and running this next season.”

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SEATTLE – Investor Chris Hansen stressed patience and optimism Thursday in his ongoing effort to build an arena to house a possible NBA or NHL franchise in Seattle’s stadium district.

Hansen’s interview with The Associated Press represented his first public comments in nearly two years about the efforts. Hansen acknowledged his investment group was surprised by the City Council’s decision last May to deny a proposed street closure that would have moved the project forward with some public investment.

Hansen said his group re-evaluated the situation after the vote and decided to turn the project into a privately financed facility. Hansen said there would be other investors in addition to the five made public so far – including Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

The new proposal still requires the same street closure that was denied a year ago.

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The Coyotes are committed to Arizona.

That was the message from co-owner Anthony LeBlanc, who also serves as team president and CEO, on Thursday.

LeBlanc was responding to a local report that team officials had recently scouted Seattle’s KeyArena and Portland’s Moda Center, foreshadowing a relocation to the Pacific Northwest.

“It couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is 100 percent false,” LeBlanc told the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “There is absolutely no facts whatsoever in that story.”

The Coyotes’ search for a new arena was back on the front burner Friday after Arizona State University announced it would not go forward with a proposal to build a new facility at its Tempe campus.

But the Coyotes aren’t without other opportunities for a new home in the Valley of the Sun.

“The good news for us, as we’ve said over the past year, is we have a number of options. (Phoenix) mayor Greg Stanton has been incredibly forthright in his statements that he’d like to see us downtown, and that’s something we’re very interested in,” added LeBlanc, who also described a site in nearby Mesa as “intriguing.”

In the meantime, the Coyotes believe their current home in Glendale is only a short-term option.

“The decision to build the facility in Glendale was prior to our ownership group. The honest answer is it was a mistake. It was the wrong location for this franchise,” LeBlanc said. “We’re OK staying in Glendale if we know that there is certainty of a new facility coming online and shovels in the ground.”

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If an NBA team comes to Seattle, Russell Wilson doesn’t just want to be involved – he wants a piece of the ownership.

The Seattle Seahawks quarterback is part of an investment group hoping to build an arena for potential NBA and NHL teams. On Thursday, Wilson said he would like an ownership stake if a basketball team returned to the area.

“Yeah, I will. Yes, for sure,” Wilson said about being an owner, according to ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia. “It’s going to be an exciting thing.”

Wilson said he’s been considering the option for awhile and feels like, despite his young age of 27, he can contribute to the franchise.

“I met (investment group leader) Chris (Hansen) a few years ago, and we were having a great conversation,” said Wilson. “We were talking, and I’ve told you guys I’ve been really authentic about wanting to own a team one day and being a part of something really special and doing that.

“And even though I’m young, I definitely have a business mindset. And I want to be able to help people and give back and help change this community, continue to change this community for the better.”

Seattle has been without an NBA team since the SuperSonics left in 2008. Along with Hansen, a Seattle-area hedge fund manager, Wilson is excited about the idea to bring another franchise to the city that’s supported him so much.

“For a long time, I have wanted to own a team and be part of that and all that kind of stuff,” Wilson said. “Really for the past year I’d say, really kind of been really processing it and thinking about it and trying to understand, and trying to get information from the people of Seattle.”

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Gary Bettman didn’t mince words when asked about the city of Seattle’s pursuit of a new multi-sport arena.

“We’re not paying a lot of attention to Seattle,” the NHL commissioner said Monday at the PrimeTime Sports & Entertainment Conference in Toronto, according to NHL.com’s Dan Rosen.

“If they ever put a shovel in the ground and actually build a building instead of just talking about one, we might pay attention. But it’s not something we’re monitoring. We’re not focusing on future expansion at this point and we’re not focusing on Seattle over anywhere else.”

Despite Bettman’s talk, deputy commissioner Bill Daly stressed that expansion to Seattle isn’t completely off the table.

“I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility of further expansion at some point in the future, but it’s certainly not on the radar screen today,” he said.

“Our primary focus on the expansion front is making sure Las Vegas gets in successfully and that everything we’ve put into place for them to enter the league progresses the way it was intended to progress.”

Las Vegas was the only city awarded an NHL expansion franchise in June. Quebec City’s bid was accepted but ultimately deferred, while Seattle’s did not make the final stage of the bidding process.

Last month, Chris Hansen and his group of investors offered to privately financetheir proposed arena project that would bring a new single-venue NHL and NBA facility to Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood.

Mayor Ed Murray told local TV station King 5 News that he’s targeting early spring for a decision on whether to approve Hansen’s plan or potentially entertain another option, such as renovating KeyArena, the former home of the NBA’s SuperSonics.