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Friday, 08 May 2015 01:17

Seattle's Proposed Arena Could Get Sonics, NHL To City Soon

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Could the Supersonics and the NHL be coming to Seattle soon?  An environmental report cleared another hurdle for a proposed dual-venue stadium in Washington.

The plans for an arena in Seattle, WA to house an NBA and NHL team passed a key step on Thursday afternoon, as an environmental impact statement found no major issues to stop the project from moving forward.

The story was reported by NESN.com and other media sources.

The release of the environment report comes after two years of work on the proposed site, which is located near Safeco Field (home of the Seattle Mariners) and CenturyLink Field (home of the Seattle Seahawks and MLS' Seattle Sounders). 

Investor Chris Hansen is leading the group that are trying to return basketball to the city for the first time since the Seattle Supersonics relocated to Oklahoma City, OK after the 2007-08 season.  The group is also attempting to lure an expansion franchise from the NHL, who has been interested in several locations, including Seattle.

There are still several obstacles to be cleared before work could be started on the proposed arena.  The original memo between Hansen, the city of Seattle, and King County in Washington stated that the group must have acquired a basketball franchise prior to work beginning on the arena.  There has been no talk of expansion in the NBA, and Hansen's previous attempt to purchase the Sacramento Kings in 2013 in order to move them to Seattle was unsuccessful.

The NHL has expressed strong interest in expanding and is very interested in the Seattle location, but the memo would have to be re-worked and all parties would have to agree to allow the NHL franchise to move in first.  The mayor of Seattle, Ed Murray, stated that there would have to be several significant changes made to the original language of the memo for the city to support a revision. 

Hansen has also previously stated that he would not support the arena being an NHL-only venue, and would not be interested in becoming an NHL owner.  He changed his stance on Thursday, claiming that he would fully support the idea of an NHL team arriving first, but would still pursue either buying an existing NBA franchise or obtaining an expansion team in the near future.

Seattle has been without an NBA team since the Sonics relocated and became the Oklahoma City Thunder after being sold to Clay Bennett in 2006.  Bennett tried to find public funding to construct a new arena to replace the KeyArena before moving the team out of the Northwest. 

If the NBA were to return to Seattle, a team could be called the Supersonics but would not have the history associated with the previous organization.  A settlement between the city and Bennett's ownership group stated that the Sonics' banners, trophies, and retired jerseys would remain in Seattle.  The nickname "Sonics" or "Supersonics", logo, and color scheme are free for any NBA team to use, making it possible for the Sonics to eventually return.  The franchise history, however, is shared with the Thunder, and a deal between the two organizations would have to be made to bring everything back to Seattle if and when a basketball team returned.

A similar instance recently took place, when Charlotte and New Orleans were able to agree to a deal allowing the Charlotte Hornets to be reborn.  The original Charlotte organization was relocated to New Orleans in 2002, while Charlotte was awarded an expansion team in 2004.  In 2013, the New Orleans franchise announced it would rename itself, allowing the Charlotte team to reclaim the name "Hornets" and regain all historical records from its previous stint (1988-2002).

Adam Belue

My name is Adam Belue, I'm from Fall River, MA, and I'm a sports fanatic.  I'll watch and write about just about any and every sport, even the fringe ones that aren't really sports like bowling, poker, and ultimate frisbee.  I'm a huge Green Bay Packers fan, and a self-proclaimed New England Patriots hater (and proud of it!)... which makes my job in a sporting goods store quite interesting.  I'm a big fan of the other local teams (Bruins, Red Sox, and Celtics), along with the Alabama Crimson Tide and college football as a whole.  I may be a bit obsessed (or a lot obsessed) with Taylor Swift, and I've seen her in concert four times so far... some of the best times I've had by the way her concerts are quite the experience!  I'm also a huge tennis fan, and have played the sport for a good majority of my life.  I wish more people watched and appreciated tennis.  I'm currently a part of the Boston Bruins and Boston Red Sox Beat Team on CLNS Radio, and post a weekly fantasy football and college football column during the season.