Editorial: Bring Sonics Back in a Different Location Without Public Money

By Editorial Staff, April 30, 2013, Seattle Times

The return of the NBA and professional basketball, a desirable goal, will depend on the durable mantra that guides any commercial enterprise: location, location, location.

The right setting and a deal without public money will set the stage for NBA basketball in this competitive pro sports environment.

In their community, the Sacramento Kings survive as the only game in town. The theme was pushed by supporters who wanted to keep the only professional sports franchise in California’s state capital.

Monday’s announcement by a joint relocation and finance advisory committee of NBA owners is not final, but it was unanimous and unequivocal.

The committee’s recommendation goes to the full NBA Board of Governors in mid-May. A reversal that keeps investor Chris Hansen’s bid to snatch the team is possible, but improbable.

Continued pursuit of a team is expected, and Hansen’s efforts received renewed expressions of support from community leaders.

The fundamental flaw in the proposal was to put a professional sports and entertainment arena in Seattle’s Sodo district, which represented a threat to the city’s industrial zone, and the economic engine that is the Port of Seattle.

Basketball will return and thrive here when the focus is on the sport and not using the franchise as a lever for real estate development.

Sacramento responded to the potential theft of its team with bold leadership, provided in part by Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player.

Yes, NBA Commissioner David Stern was a powerful ally for those who wanted to keep the Kings in Sacramento.

What the NBA saw as it vetted the Seattle investment group’s deal and management team is unknown for now.

Indeed, Hansen’s group — beyond the familiar faces — remains a mystery.

Seattle lost the Sonics to a buyer who took the team to his hometown. We know how that feels. Stealing another team hardly sets things right.

As the Sacramento mayor acknowledged in victory, Seattle deserves a team. None are for sale. League expansion is not in the works. A committee of owners did not like the bid put before them.

The return of professional basketball not only means landing a team, but finding the right place to lay down the hardwood.

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