What if the NBA returned to Seattle?
What would we miss about the Sacramento Kings? What does it mean for Seattle?
Here's a self-imposed Q&A on the possibility of an NBA team returning to Seattle.
Q: What could stop this from happening?
A: As one person close to the process said: "The Maloofs." The Kings' owners were unable to get their proposed move to Anaheim, Calif., to go through and didn't meet the terms of an arena deal in Sacramento, so their track record for getting the job done isn't strong. With a ready-made arena in Kansas City, Mo., among other potential destinations, they still have leverage to try to get everything they asked for in a sale of their team -- and could walk away if they don't get it.
Q: Are you happy about the prospect of a return to Seattle or sad for the departure from Sacramento?
A: My first reaction is happiness for Seattle. That city has a longer, more successful NBA history than the Kings. The original SuperSonics were born in Seattle. The Kings were a transplant twice removed from their original home, yet Sacramento got a stronger commitment from the NBA to keep its team there than Seattle did with the Sonics.
I wouldn't blame David Stern for this one. He and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson thought they had a scenario to build a new arena for the Kings, then the franchise decided it wanted no part of the deal.
Seattle makes more business sense than Sacramento. California has four NBA teams currently, while the underserved Pacific Northwest is down to the Portland Trail Blazers. Seattle is a bigger TV market than Sacramento, which will help the league when it's time to negotiate the next national television deals.
Q: What's the status of the Seattle arena?
A: In October, the city and county approved a site near the current football and baseball stadiums south of downtown. There are still environmental impact reports to complete and legal challenges to meet, but those aren't expected to deter the estimated $490 million project.
Q: What would you miss most about the Sacramento Kings?
A: Believe it or not, the arena. It is outdated and dilapidated, to use a little Clydespeak. Pieces were falling on the court during games this season. But when the Kings were good, there was no better environment in the league. The building is so small there was no place for the noise to escape. The only time I've ever truly had ringing in my ears was after Game 7 of the 2002 Western Conference finals. That's because Arco Arena (what it was called then and what it will always be to me) is a place to watch a game, not an excuse to host a bunch of corporate types in suites.
Q: Isn't the reported price of $500 million a little steep?
A: Well, the Warriors went for $450 million. When Clay Bennett's group bought the SuperSonics, the purchase price, relocation fee, legal expenses and operating losses during their lame-duck time in Seattle wound up costing around $465 million by one estimate. You won't find deals for NBA teams on Groupon.
Q: What are the underrated aspects of having a team back in Seattle?
A: Ice Cube's line "The Lakers beat the SuperSonics" in "It Was A Good Day" won't sound outdated anymore. And there will be a proper place to hang Gary Payton's jersey.
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