WOW! We did it.
I've felt like we were 99% of the way there for a couple of months now but there certainly is something different about crossing the finish line.
For the last 6 years I've had a pretty defined mission. The building has always been the issue and if a building could get done then I could stand back and let the real players deal with the franchise and building issues.
Now the political process is done. It doesn't really matter what those guys at the Seattle Times message boards say, litigation is something that is handled by lawyers, not by fans. It is up to Chris Hansen and his team and all indications I have are that the city attorney Pete Holmes and has done a great job with this contract and that there is a lot of confidence in the ability to defend the agreement.
From a fans perspective I really believe that the best thing we can do is move away from micro-analysis of legal and stadium issues that have been really critical for the last few years and choose instead to build bridges between the fans and the sport. We need to have more discussion of box scores and games and less about longshoremen and EIS. Lets ENJOY the ride up because we all suffered so much on the way down.
For the most part I have avoided talking about how this has all affected me personally. I am getting a tremendous amount of personal credit and appreciation and it does mean a lot. The number of people who just want to thank me, shake my hand, or offer dinner to me and my wife is really rewarding. This whole adventure has put strain upon my family and my business and it is nice that people have noticed.
I generally stick with a standard reply that it was a team effort and that is the truth. A HUGE number of people supported me and literally each and every time I have run out of energy and thrown my hands up to quit somebody has stepped up and offered me what I needed to continue. Sometimes it was help with a press release, sometimes it was a critical alliance or introduction. There was always somebody in this city who would see my need and come fill it. It was a total team effort.
I won't talk about it much going forward but people should know that I do feel a huge amount of personal pride in what I have done here. We treated people really well and earned the cooperation of a lot of former opponents. We earned a lot of respect from influential government officials and corporate leaders because of the way we conducted ourselves. All the people who said "you have good intentions but really you will never make a difference" were wrong. We made a huge difference. We identified that there were certain community resources that needed to be in place for this to have a chance for success. We built up those resources despite the fact that we had nowhere to go with them, somehow trusting that the passion for the Sonics would make something happen. When push came to shove the things we had done made a huge impact for Chris' efforts. Yesterday Chris was kind enough to credit me at the signing ceremony as I stood up at the podium surrounded by friends and fellow participants. It was incredibly rewarding that a future owner of the team actually noticed and respected all the fans.
People can say what they want about my role and my actions but I am completely and 100% comfortable with my them. We made a few mistakes but for the most part we did thing right. My relationship with Chris and his team was completely and totally appropriate. We are a couple of guys who worked hard towards the same goal and I never made any bones about the fact that I supported him. I did it completely without pay and maintained my organizational independence until the end. He was respectful of our efforts and of fans in general since the day I met him. He is also a cool and sincere guy.
I am still trying to determine what my next courses of action will be. I need to make up some time with my family but at the same time do not want to miss the real opportunity I have created out of this situation. I'm talking to various organizations around town about ways we can work together. I'm getting advice from people about how I can maintain this great coalition and use it for the betterment for the community. I have a growing list of offers to join boards and other groups committed to making this city a better place and am greatly expanding my work in support of early education. I am LOVING my role on the BOD of www.PowerfulSchools.org and intend to be really active working in support of education and opportunity. I am totally addicted to repping Seattle and will nto stop.
There is a great opportunity going forward for basketball and sports fans who became politically aware and mobilized to continue their involvement and help shape the city going forward. I'm committed to starting out by teaming with maritime advocates to help build upon the $40M in transportation improvements for Sodo. We have great attention on the issue and if we all work together we can find ways to make this a win/win that everybody can feel good about. I am currently meeting with state and local officials as well as some maritime stakeholders and am being very clear that I will do everything I can to deliver the support of stadium advocates to help with these efforts. I think there is a great opportunity to capitalize on our arena momentum to get something done.
So people told me early that I was just a fan and could not make any substantive difference. They were wrong. They told me later that I had too big of an ego and could not be an effective team player as part of a larger campaign. I worked hard to show them that I could lend support as a solid role player. Now I am sure that there are some who are saying that I am a one trick pony and with basketball behind me I will lose my constituency. They are wrong also. Looking forward to sorting things out over several months, continuing to build a relationship with Chris Hansen and other people who care about Seattle and continuing to make Seattle a better place.
Hoops fans are going to have a big presence in this city for a long time. Thanks to all those who empower me to be a part of it. It has been a crazy ride and there are some good stories to tell.
WE WON!!!! GO SONICS!!!