sonics

The Seattle Sonics and Kings: now what?

Where do we go from here?

For any rational Seattle Sonics fan this conversation begins by offering congratulations to Sacramento.

It has been a turbulent couple of months for Kings fans, and at the end of the day they deserve a team. The support they drummed up in a very short amount of time is impressive and fully confirms their devotion. However, the situation is still complex.

Legislation for a new stadium had to be quickly created and passed through local government for Sacramento to have any chance at keeping their team. That they accomplished this is a minor miracle, but it came at cost. The public at large barely had time to comprehend what was happening, let alone give their opinion on stadium plans. Now taxpayers are expected to provide over 250 million in funding.

There is a portion of the citizens who are not pleased about fronting the bill without being consulted, and they are reportedly in the process of gathering signatures and forming a lawsuit to stop the stadium from being built.

Gary Payton, Chris Hansen

Hansen wants to see basketball return to his hometown Seattle much like the rest of us

Their lawsuit contends that there is no evidence that the stadium will boost the economic standing of the city, but the more impassioned local argument is centered around how ridiculous it is to spend an exorbitant sum on a stadium when there are schools, neighborhoods, and people in desperate need of that money.

It is an awkward issue for sports fans that can be fairly raised when any stadium in any city is built, but given the lack of citizen consultation and huge amount of drama surrounding this stadium deal, we may see these issues gain more exposure in the coming weeks.

The drama is far from over.

The only mystery for Seattle is whether Chris Hansen will be able to retain the 7% stake of the Kings he purchased in bankruptcy court.

It’s not clear to me what he plans to do with this 7% share if he does keep it, but it will be an interesting topic to monitor going forward.

His bid to buy the team may seem to have amounted to little, but it at least established Seattle as the top destination for any teams looking to relocate in the future.

We know that the money is in place to facilitate such a move, but whether civic enthusiasm will hold up for three, five, or fifteen years is another matter entirely.

At least we can be sure that anyone thinking of moving a team will most certainly be making a phone call to Mr. Hansen.

It’s also possible that waiting for a less messy relocation opportunity is a blessing in disguise.

The Maloof’s financial struggles should not be the deciding factor for professional basketball remaining in Sacramento any more then Howard Shultz’s bitterness over the lack of a stadium deal, or Clay Bennett’s ties to Oklahoma City, should have sealed the fate of the Sonics.

Sports franchises should not be moved on the whims of billionaires, and I’m hopeful Seattle can adopt a team that is making a clean break from a disinterested fan base.

If such a thing exists.

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