It was a sad day Monday in Seattle as fans and the community there found out that the city would not be getting an NBA team back. At one point, it seemed inevitable that the Sacramento Kings franchise was on its way there, but fans in Sacramento celebrated Monday as the team will be staying.
Seattle mayor Mike McGinn joined KJR in Seattle with Dave “Softy” Mahler to discuss the news that Seattle isn’t getting an NBA franchise, why he was concerned this could happen, what happens next, the initial timeline of how this would go down and if he’ll be talking with David Stern.
The news that a team is not coming back to Seattle is tough to swallow:
“I was disappointed, too. I was really hopeful that this was going to go our way. But, you know something? The fans have a lot to be proud of here. I’m speaking from where I sit. Without the fan support around the Sonics, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Obviously we have a great investor team. … If we can go a little bit higher, too, when we entered into that memorandum of understanding, we didn’t know what team we’d be getting. We didn’t even know what team was on the horizon. And we put five years on it, too. So the fact that it was happening this fast was amazing.”
If we were just hanging out on Friday night and I asked if you thought the team would be coming here, what would you have said?:
“I was hopeful, but I’ve had a feeling that there might be some more twists and turns in the story. That’s the truth. I was wondering what the twist and turn was going to be. I was just waiting to see how it would turn out.”
What was your biggest concern?:
“I think the biggest concern is we’ve heard the number of times that David Stern mentioned the arena situation here. And while we’ve got a great arena plan and a great market, the fact that he mentioned it almost every time gave me a level of concern.”
“I don’t speak for Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, but I can say this: Here at the city, we made a commitment. In fact, I made it when I was running, that we would put ourselves in a position to take advantage of a good opportunity if it came along. And we’re in that position right now. We still have the MOU, we still have the arena plan, we’re still in a great market, so I’m hoping we can take the long view on this.”
But you can say that this thing isn’t just done and over?:
“When we entered into the MOU, it was with the understanding that there might be some twists and turns along the way. … It was an understanding from the front end that we’d go through the process of getting a permit for the arena. Of course, we have worked to protect ourselves as a city. We’re not building an arena until there’s a team. That was part of the deal as well. We put ourselves in a position and we put five years on it and that’s where we stand today, still.”
What was your initial timeline for hoping to get this done?:
“I probably would put more odds on the longer timeline, but I was also hopeful that maybe there would be a shorter timeline.”
Do you plan on speaking with Stern?:
“I have been committed to making sure that Seattle’s in a position to get a team. And in terms that make sense for Seattle. That’s one of the really great parts about this arena plan, is the way in which it protected our budget. And we were creative in how we structured the deal. … I’ve reached out to David Stern in the past and I’ll do what’s required to bring a team back to Seattle.”