Story by Tim Gardner
After 5 long years and being forced to watch our old Sonics (Oklahoma City Thunder) make a legitimate NBA title run. One has to think about turning the page. As hard as it is for me to say that, because myself, like all of you who are Sonics fans know how painful it was to lose the team. It was more than a horrible break up. I would equate it to a devastating five finger death punch but there is no death, only an on open wound that is still bleeding. Along with the Thunder rolling through the playoffs and taking the community of Oklahoma City by storm, that open wound feels like pounds of salt packing on top of the wound.
I will say this, the pain and anger we feel towards the situation should start to fade (if it hasn’t already) for two reasons. The first is time, the second and most important is the gift we’ve been handed as Seattle residents and fans by Christopher Hansen (pictured above). Hansen, a Hedge Fund manager out of San Francisco is a former Seattle resident and like all of us who feel the void of the Sonics loss, Hansen not only felt the void,but he quietly developed a plan just after the Sonics left that would take 5-10 years to get the team back that has over 40 years of tradition. Hansen, who grew up in Seattle and is a huge Sonics fan felt the need to act as a civic obligation.” This isn’t about Chris Hansen, The is about a New NBA team and a new Arena” Hansen was quoted in the Seattle Times by a great piece of journalism by Jerry Brewer.
The plan is to build an Arena that would suit and NBA franchise as well as an NHL franchise. The Arena, along with parking will cost $500 million dollars to complete and is only contingent on an NBA franchise committing to return to Seattle. Hansen, will invest $300 million of his own money (which is unheard of from a private investor) to make this plan a reality. The rest which is projected to be around $190 million to $200 million will be funded by the city with assurance that it will be paid back by Hansen and his investors. Hansen, is even funding a traffic study on level of congestion and how this will affect his neighbors in the Sodo area (The Mariners, The Port, Starbucks etc.)
This plan faces many battles however. With the fickle legislature that looks for excuses not to see the big picture (The legislature was key in losing the Sonics 5 years ago). The Seattle Mariners, who selfishly sent a letter to Mayor McGinn, regarding traffic issues . Most importantly the Port which is the major backbone of the Seattle economic climate. While these issues can be overcome over time, the real issue is us as fans and residents of the City of Seattle and the neighboring suburbs. If we want our Sonics back then we must fully support Hansen’s plan, we also have to be persistent in our voice so the City and the legislature can make this decision to the favor of Hansen’s plan. Part of the reason the Sonics left in 2008 was because of the submissive attitudes we had as fans, but then before we knew the rug was pulled out under our feet because that passive perception became our worst reality. Nothing lasts without great effort..
So with the announcement of the arena plans on Wednesday, the city faces a very crucial task. The encouraging sign is that the proponents are more visible this go around unlike 2008. Greg Nickles is gone as well as the visible opponents. Mayor McGinn and Dow Constantine are fully on board along with numerous members of the legislature and the city with Hansen’s plan. Even the vilified David Stern is open to the return of the NBA to Seattle. As Shoeless Joe from Field of Dreams put it “If you build it, he will come.” Well let’s support Hansen, and let’s apply as much pressure to the opposition as possible.
Let’s get an NBA team back along with NHL and let’s get the I-5 rivalry back with the Blazers. Let’s start a new one with the Canucks. Let’s retire that Payton and Kemp jersey. Let’s hear Kevin Calabro do play by play again. Let’s envision opening night with our new arena the place is pitch black, and the spotlight is on each of member of the starting five as they get introduced. It gives me chills down my spine, and the wound from the five finger death punch is healed with a light scar.