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Seattle is the Best Untapped NBA-NHL Market

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Since the Seattle SuperSonics were sold in 2008, fans have been trying to bring a NBA team back to the area. Photo: Ted S. Warren, AP Photo

Seattle, Washington is without doubt the best empty, available sports market for both the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association. The city has a growing corporate community with money. You see cranes around the business district and there is a decent sized cable TV contract that probably would be available to a local NBA or NHL team.

But there are some sizeable obstacles to overcome for Seattle to get either an NBA or NHL team or both.

There is a report the NBA is not looking to expand, so that would mean, the NBA is out of reach for the city even if things fall into place and Chris Hansen gets to build his proposed arena or if private investors decide to renovate the city’s arena which opened in 1962 as part of the Seattle World Fair and was renovated twice, once following the closing of the World’s Fair and in 1994. That 1994 redo of a 32-year-old building caused the NBA’s Seattle problems as the rehabbing of the building was not up to the 21st century state of the art specs which forced Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to sell his SuperSonics to Oklahoma investors in 2006. Schultz failed to get a new arena built.

The Oklahoma group led by Clayton Bennett also struck out in getting a new arena and left Seattle with two years remaining on a lease in 2008. Chris Hansen attempted to buy the NBA’s Sacramento Kings franchise in 2013 and move it to Seattle but NBA Commissioner David Stern and his owners rejected the bid. Stern put pressure on Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to come up with a funding scheme to build a new arena. Johnson delivered.

The lesson here, no matter how wealthy a city is, if it doesn’t have the right, revenue producing arena, it doesn’t have the right stuff for a team.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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