SEATTLE — When 40 years of tradition and support gets flushed faster than an Aroldis Chapman fastball, the emptiness sticks with everyone effected. You know the story. Local business mogul who made it big with coffee got in over his head with sports. Made it worse by believing in a man who gave an empty promise to a city, and a lackluster effort to build an arena.
After four years the wounds have been covered up and fans have accepted it and moved on in the hopes that one day the NBA would return to the Emerald City. Now, that one day seems closer than ever with the emergence of Seattle native Christopher Hansen.
The 44-year-old hedge fund manager of San Francisco based Valiant Capital has expressed serious interest in building an NBA arena in the Sodo district of Seattle. Without talking publicly or the press Hansen has managed to generate more excitement than any other Seattle sports franchise has since 2005, when the Seahawks played in Super Bowl 40.
With the announcement of a press conference that will have Hansen unveiling a new arena deal fans have begun to believe after years of skepticism. NBA commissioner David Stern has already talked to Hansen but still acknowledged that an arena needs to be built or started before any team can be considered.
In recent weeks the Sacramento Kings have been named as the No.1 option to relocate north. Given the teams poor performance, and lack of an adequate facility, much like the Seattle Super Sonics faced in 2007-2008, the team would make sense as a strong candidate.
The only problem is Joe and Gavin Maloof, the current owners of the Kings, have no intention of selling the franchise. They need an adequate arena, they need to generate better attendance, they need to play better ball. But the one thing they don’t need is a new owner.
Even with the March 1st deadline that the league has imposed on the city to decide whether or not to use money generated from a private parking lot, the Kings won’t relocate out of the state of California. Anaheim, a 410 mile drive down I-5, is where the franchise would move to.
Without the Kings, that leaves the league owned and operated New Orleans Hornets as the next viable option. Taken over by the league in 2010 after George Shinn failed to sell the team the Hornets have become a wasteland. Ranking 26th in a 30-team league in this season with an average attendance of 14,302 is just a sample size of issues with the Hornets.
No Chris Paul, and no Eric Gordon, who the team acquired in a from the Clippers in exchange for Paul. The Hornets have fallen lower than the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers and with the NBA running the franchise there is no end in sight.
With currently three professional teams already operating, not including the WNBA Seattle Storm. Adding a fledgeling, but growing, New Orleans Hornets would be the ideal team to relocate to Seattle. Fans has shown when a team is successful, even a newly created franchise like the Seattle Sounders FC (Major League Soccer), they are more than willing to pay.
Hansen, set to unveil an estimated one billion dollar arena plan Thursday in Seattle, will now have to seek out tenants. While Hansen isn’t expected to announced who he will target as a future tenant it seems likely that the league owned Hornets would be the perfect fit.
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Here is a link to the Seattle Times article showing where the arena will be built.
Here is the King5 report about the arena deal/announcement set for Thursday.