The NBA is extremely close to finalizing their new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and the finalized details should be coming out in the next few weeks. During the announcement of the new television contract, we said that there are expansion escalators in the deal. In other words, if the NBA were to expand, they would get more money out of the deal.
What does all that have to do with Seattle?
Well, we know that the NBA is going to do their best to not move teams out of their current markets. They made that mistake back in 2008 with a certain team, they know they messed up big time and will not make that mistake again.
The other night I reached out to a lot of media and league people in my contact list and simply asked, "Is expansion on the table?"
I had 57 people respond, 14 of those either did not comment or said they didn’t know. That leaves 43 other responses. Some that really jumped out were:
"With no arena, you’d get 14, maybe 16, votes toward expansion."
"I’ve heard there are 14 definitely for it."
"It [expansion] is definitely on the table and being discussed."
"There are two who are fully no, everyone else can have their mind changed."
Those would be the four most pessimistic responses that I got. The rest were definitely a lot more, well I got goosebumps and it made me giddy. A couple of my favorites:
"If Seattle had a new building, they would pass expansion."
"An hour after Seattle approves their arena, they’d have an offer in hand."
How can you not be excited about those comments? I am not, however, going to get my hopes up too much. A lot can happen and things can change. The whole thing will come down to the Seattle City Council changing at least one vote and approving the street vacation of Occidental Avenue so that Chris Hansen can get a new arena built.
If there is no arena, there is no Sonics, and it is simple as that.
I’ve heard that once the CBA is finished, the expansion bidding could be announced as soon as December or as late as the All-Star Game in February. There are going to be numerous other cities competing with Seattle to get the expansion franchises as well. I do not know if there is just going to be one slot or two. Other cities I’ve heard that are going to be making a play for expansion are Louisville (they have all their affairs in order and ready to go), Pittsburgh, Omaha, Las Vegas, Vancouver, BC, and Mexico City. Kansas City and St. Louis have been brought up as well, but I can’t confirm the validity of their interest.
Seattle is definitely on the radar and the city needs to get the arena passed or it’ll be about 2050 before we can ever hope of getting a team back in Seattle.