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Happy New Year from Sonics Rising!

Here are some key dates to focus on in 2016

Andrew Theodorakis/Getty Images

Another year has come and gone without the return of our beloved Seattle Supersonics. This marks the seventh year since the team left, and the fourth year since Chris Hansen came on the scene with his Sonics Arena proposal. It's now time to focus on a new year, and one that looks like it could be very beneficial to Sonics fans.

As we usher in 2016, our first key date is that of January 4 (hey, that's today!). Today is the day the Seattle City Council comes back into session after their winter break, and all indications are that they will vote on the vacation of Occidental Avenue between S Massachusetts Street and S Holgate Street in order to make way for the arena sometime this month.

Once the vacation is granted, the next key step will be an issuance of the Master Use Permit. This could take place some time in February and would allow Hansen to begin construction. Of course, he would have to do so with private funds as the public financing mechanism cannot go into place until an NBA team is secured. Speaking of the NBA, that league's All-Star weekend takes place from February 12-14. The Board of Governors will be on hand and business often takes place over this weekend, even without an official meeting. The NHL's All-Star game will take place even earlier, on January 31.

March 1 is the deadline for relocation papers to be filed in the NBA. Presumably, and according to NBA to Louisville advocate J. Bruce Miller, this is also the deadline for expansion applications to be submitted. Of course, without a formal expansion process being opened, there's no reason to believe the league would be entertaining applications. Unless we hear something between now and then, there's not a lot to be excited about this date for, but it's something to keep in mind. The NBA Board of Governors then has their formal meeting in the second week of April. The NHL meets in September normally.

It's been a long, often times difficult, road to get here, but 2016 looks like it has the potential to be very impactful for us. Things look to kick off right away and could move along quite swiftly if everything falls into place. Of course, as we've been saying for what feels like forever, our first step is get our arena shovel-ready. But for once, we can actually see the light.