Sonics Guy and the original Sonics Guy: Lenny Wilkens. Wilkens is a legend in Seattle.
The first meeting I was able to attend was simply amazing. The face of the organization to get a team here is Chris Hansen–a hedge fund manager who lives in San Fran but has fond memories of watching hoops while growing up in Seattle–was nothing short of spectacular. As he was peppered with questions for about 45 minutes his answers were measured,solid and well thought out. The committee tried in several ways to get Mr. Hansen to divulge who the other financiers were he kept that information close to the vest, but rest assured he has other individuals that share his grand vision. The panel as well as the audiences seemed impressed with his responses.
They took a break after his testimony so luckilly I was able to talk to him before he left. I simply said “Thank You for your efforts to bring hoops back to Seattle.” he was very gracious and thanked me for support. Two of my friends David and Jeff Brown from the group Bring Back Our Sonics also presented him with a T-Shirt.
During the break I was able to talk to Coach Wilkens about how him coaching the Supersonics to their and Seattle’s only championship really had a positive effect on my life and how him working on trying to find a real solution, and how bringing professional basketball back to the area just showed his commitment to us. He kindly thanked me: a true class act.
The second half of the meeting consisted of experts talking about how the arena would be built , timelines, and what benefit it would be to the region. During the public comment portion I was able to talk about how enjoyed their thoughtfulness and taking their time and due diligence in supporting what I think is a great plan and a magnificent opportunity for the city and region.
The second meeting had less star power than the first as Chris Hansen was not in attendance. Who was in attendance though was Robert Nellams the Director of the Seattle Center. He told us some interesting things for example, when the Sonics and T-Birds left events at the Key went down from 170 a year to 84 a year. Also, the year after the move they posted a $1.2 million loss. Last year they turned it around and made a $300,000 profit.
He talked about how they could work with another arena to host NBA and NHL, while the new one is built. The city talked about how much revenue could be generated by the new arena.
During public testimony the only ones who expressed caution about the arena were union members from the Port who were worried about the traffic implications. When I testified I said that with already 67,000 coming to CenturyLink and 30,000 to Safeco and only 18,000 coming to an NBA/NHL game I think any traffic congestion can be worked out. Especially with the Kings staying in Sacramento we have plenty of time to work out these issues.
Here’s to two great meetings and moving forward to getting the NBA back to Seattle.
Sonics Guy's jacket is famous. Front page worthy even. Oh and Chris Hansen.