Seattle Mayor “Pretty Optimistic” About Eventual Return Of NBA

Following a recent conversation with league commissioner Adam Silver, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is feeling “pretty optimistic” about the eventual return of the NBA to her city, she tells Chris Daniels of KING 5. According to Durkan, her phone conversation with Silver occurred just before Christmas, shortly after the commissioner discussed the possibility of expansion during a press conference.

“It is very good news for the city of Seattle that they are thinking of an expansion team,” Durkan said. “And I was honest with him. He knows Seattle wants to be at the front of the line. We’re where the team should be. But we will be respecting them as they move forward to their ownership because the (owners), you know, (have) to approve it.”

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who recently reported that some NBA officials have floated the idea of a potential $2.5 billion expansion fee, says that league officials have also stressed the fact that expansion is still likely years away, if it happens at all.

However, Seattle is an intriguing option for the NBA for several reasons. The city is set to open a newly-renovated arena, Climate Pledge Arena, which will be the home of the Kraken, Seattle’s NHL expansion team. There are also multiple deep-pocketed bidders in the city who have expressed interest in being part of an NBA ownership group, including Kraken majority owner David Bonderman and Seattle native Chris Hansen, Windhorst notes.

Of course, the NBA’s history in Seattle is also a factor — the SuperSonics were part of the league for over four decades until the franchise moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. Bringing the Sonics back to Seattle would go a long way toward healing old wounds in the Pacific Northwest.

Over the years, Silver has downplayed the possibility of expansion. Even last month, he said the concept wasn’t on “the front burner” for the league. However, many team owners are facing new financial challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, which could increase their interest in the hefty expansion fee that would accompany a new franchise or two. Durkan told Daniels that she believes those financial considerations could help open the door for Seattle.

“I think it’s real,” she said. “But I think again, the commissioner is going to, you know, consult the ownership, and the ownership for the first time itself is being very public that they think it is probably a good idea for basketball. Part of that is the COVID economics. Part of it is the economics of sports.

“But look, there’s no city that I think is better positioned to be successful. We’re going to have the best arena in the country. I’m not just saying that when people walk in that building, they will be amazed. We are a city that even with COVID, when we come out of COVID, we have so much upside here.”

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