Yesterday we learned that a vote on the street vacation for a section of Occidental Avenue to make room for the new Seattle SuperSonics arena would have to wait for at least another two months. So while we wait, why not dive into some hypotheticals, shall we?
The NBA Development League started in 2001 with eight teams. In 2006, the Idaho Stampede entered the league and were named the affiliate for the Seattle SuperSonics. Through the last 15 years, the league has expanded to 22 teams (starting next season) and is headed for a true one-to-one minor league system. The Stampede are now owned and operated by the Utah Jazz. Thusly, once the Seattle SuperSonics return the NBA, they will need to find a new D-League team. We're here to help them out with that task.
In part one of this story, we will determine where our affiliate team should play. Let's assume that we want the team to stay in the state of Washington, making travel easy for our call ups and assignments. You can always vote for outside the state in the poll below, but specify where that might be in the comments section. Let's look at some of the options.
This answers the glaring question of what to do with KeyArena should the Storm and other events move to the new arena. Obviously there would still be holes in the calendar, but this puts an automatic 25 dates in the Key every year. The con, here, is how do you create excitement for a minor league team when the pro team is playing a mere mile and a half away?
Arena: Tacoma Dome
The T-Dome has not been the home to a sports team of any level since the Tacoma Sabercats folded in 2002. Tacomans are proud of their city and could easily support a team branded with its name. The stadium, as well as KeyArena, has the potential issue of being too big for the D-League. Most D-League arenas house around 5,000. Of course, the upper levels could always be tarped off.
Arena: ShoWare Center
The ShoWare Center is the home to the minor league Seattle Thunderbirds hockey team. It once held an all-night basketball event featuring the Kent-Meridian, Kentlake, Kentwood, and Kentridge's boys and girls high school basketball teams.
Arena: Xfinity Arena
The former Everett Events Center was home to the Everett Explosion of the International Basketball League for one year in 2007. The team then moved to Monroe. Not a glowing resume for the arena, but perhaps an NBA D-League team could draw more than a team in a league that doesn't even exist any longer.
Arena: McCarthey Athletic Center
The home to the Gonzaga Bulldogs could house a team that could represent eastern Washington. It would be beneficial to spread the excitement of local basketball across the entire state. The question here would be whether the team would be the most popular team in its home arena, with Gonzaga being a perennial tournament competitor. That issue could be resolved by playing in the...
Arena: Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena
This would be a much larger venue, which could lead to more empty seats if the team isn't accepted right away. However, this would be easier scheduling-wise than working around the Bulldogs' home games. The Memorial Arena has held the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament three times, and the second and third rounds once.
Arena: Yakima SunDome
Paul's selfish choice, the SunDome has a history with minor league basketball as the once and former home of the Continental Basketball Association's Yakima Sun Kings from 1990 until 2008, when Isiah Thomas bankrupted the entire league. The Sun Kings ranked seventh in attendance and second in season ticket sales and won the 2006 CBA championship.
Arena: Town Toyota Center
Kevin's selfish choice, the Town Toyota Center is the current home to the British Columbia Hockey League's Wenatchee Wild and holds the annual NCW High School Basketball Showcase. The arena has also held some big name concerts including Backstreet Boys and Kelly Clarkson.
So where do you think the team should play? Once we decide on a consensus, we will decide on a team name in part two.