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Exclusive: Are the Ackerleys quietly exploring a Seattle NBA solution?

Sonics Center Court at Key Arena
Can the Ackerleys bring them back?

According to emails obtained as part of a public disclosure request to the City of Seattle, brothers Ted and Chris Ackerley have been quietly exploring the possibility of bringing the NBA to Seattle.

They are the sons of the late Barry Ackerley, who bought the Sonics in 1983 and held onto them until 2001 when he sold the franchise to an investment group headed by Howard Schultz. He was the driving force behind getting KeyArena built.

The emails were exchanged on May 3, the day after the city council rejected Chris Hansen’s petition to vacate a portion of Occidental Avenue for his Sodo arena proposal, between the brothers and Seattle City Councilman Tim Burgess. Burgess began the exchange by referring to an NBA-related meeting the week before and offering to bring Mayor Ed Murray into the conversation. Chris Ackerley replied that they weren’t quite ready to do that.

When asked about the possibility of the Ackerleys being involved in the quest to bring the NBA back to Seattle, Sonics Rising’s Brian Robinson had this to say:

Chris and Ted Ackerley are well respected members of Seattle's corporate and philanthropic communities, with deep ties to the region’s basketball and Sonics legacy. Councilmember Tim Burgess has shown exceptional integrity and commitment to finding a regional arena solution in all of my dealings with him. I trust both parties judgement regarding the timing of public release of additional plans or information.

Any time a community leader cares enough to take leadership and be involved in this long and difficult process they deserve the appreciation and support of Sonics fans throughout the region. I look forward to hearing more about their potential plans to return the NBA to the nation’s 12th largest media market when such public discussions become more appropriate.

The emails do not mention the arena location being discussed, nor do they specify whether or not the NHL would factor into the Ackerleys’ plans.