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Bill Wixey 1-on-1 with Tim Leiweke

Seattle Center Arena for BOTH NHL and NBA.


Updated 11/5/17 5:28 pm: Q13 FOX has posted highlights of Bill Wixey’s six-part interview with Tim Leiweke. Leiweke makes clear his desire and approach toward bringing the Sonics back to Seattle and the NBA. He’s also very clear that there is no magic wand wave to make that happen faster. They are following the rules to make sure that they are in the best position to get a team when one becomes available.

Here are video highlights of the interview specifically discussing the Sonics:

The hour-long interview will be presented in six parts aired throughout the next week. You can read the rest of the highlights on Q13 FOX’s site here.

Original article follows:

Bill Wixey shared the following on his Facebook page:

This week on Q13 News, we are airing my exclusive 1-on-1 interview with Tim Leiweke, the President and CEO of Oak View Group, which is planning to build a $650 million, world class arena at Seattle Center. I hope you get a chance to watch the interview. It's an enlightening conversation on the Seattle arena issue. He answers a lot of questions we all have about the arena.

After spending the last several years in discussions with principals on all sides of the Seattle arena issue, this is what I know:


-It is not a remodel of KeyArena. It is a new building.

-It is completely privately financed. No public money will be used in construction.

-The project is financially secure, insured and guaranteed.

-Leiweke is one of the most successful and prolific sports executives in the world, having built 18 stadiums and arenas over his 38-year career.

-He has been a member of both the NHL Executive Council and the NBA Board of Governors.

-He has deep relationships and friendships with the NBA and NHL commissioners and owners.

-He has been in constant contact with both leagues about the arena, securing franchises and each league's plans for expansion.

-He will bring NHL hockey to Seattle...and soon.

-The NHL will commit to Seattle as soon as a firm commitment on the arena is reached with the city.

-He will bring the Sonics back, but it's going to take a little time.

-Seattle is at the front of the line for an NBA franchise when the league is ready to make the move within 3-10 years, but an arena needs to be in place.

-OVG has an NHL ownership group, headed by David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer, in place. They are ready to write the check.

-Bonderman is a part owner of the Boston Celtics, and is interested in heading up the Seattle NBA ownership group.

-There is a protocol that must be followed to join the NBA's exclusive club of owners. There are no shortcuts.

-A breach of that protocol was the main reason the NBA usurped Chris Hansen's bid to relocate the Sacramento Kings.

-Steve Ballmer's defection from Hansen's group, his purchase of the Clippers, the council vote against the vacation of Occidental, and the city's sudden opening of bids for KeyArena are all related to Hansen's failed Sacramento ploy.

-The Mariners, Seahawks, the Port and the city are all against an arena in Sodo partly because of the potential of an additional 130-plus event dates in one neighborhood because of the inevitable scheduling problems, overlap and traffic.

-Hansen's group doesn't have anywhere near the money on hand to deliver what they are promising--in Sodo or at Seattle Center.

-The Sodo Arena is not going to happen.

-The New Arena at Seattle Center is going to happen.

-The New Arena will revitalize Seattle Center and Queen Anne and will solve Seattle's arena problems for the rest of our lives.

After our interview, Tim Leiweke and I talked hockey. He discussed GM candidates he's considering for the NHL franchise, and goaltenders that he would like to target in the expansion draft. He's tight with the NHL and NBA. He's buddies with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NBA commissioner Adam Silver. He talks to them all the time. He's a man whose career has been built on his relationships and partnerships. He is a man who doesn't make promises he can't keep. If he says he will bring the Sonics back, he will bring the Sonics back. But it's going to take a little time. As soon as an NBA team is available, he will bring it to Seattle.

So, I appeal to the Sodo truthers: I know that your emotions are invested in the idea of the Sodo Arena, but please try to take these facts to heart. I was on board with Sodo for a long time because I, like many, felt it was the better arena location, and honestly, it was our only hope to bring the Sonics back. We got our hopes up, but after five years, nothing has happened. The 5-year MOU expires December 3rd, and it's gotten us no closer to bringing the Sonics back. Quite honestly, it may have worked against us in some ways.

Seattle Center is the only choice at this point. The city wants to re-gentrify Seattle Center. The new Arena will be a jewel and the Center's anchor tenant, so to speak. Yes, traffic is an issue. It's an issue everywhere. It's a big problem in Sodo, too. OVG is working with the city to deal with it, but it won't simply disappear. It will be a process. The Arena is the thing.

If the city council votes in favor of the MOU for the Seattle Center Arena on December 4th, construction is set to begin next year. I would not be surprised at all if the NHL commits to Seattle by Christmas. That NHL team would be on the ice for the 2020 season opener in the brand new, state-of-the-art arena. The aggressive construction timeline is because the NHL wants the league's 32nd team on the ice in 2020, and that team will be the Seattle Metropolitans. Or the Totems. Or the Steelheads. Or whatever we decide to name it. It's our team to lose.

Chris Hansen is a good guy, and he gave us everything he had to bring the Sonics back. He whipped up a lot of emotion among those of us desperate to have our team back, but unfortunately, he came up short. The deck was stacked against him. We owe Hansen a huge debt of gratitude. We would not be in the position we are in right now to get an arena built without his efforts. I thank Chris Hansen for that from the bottom of my heart.

That said, Sodo is not going to happen. Please, please look at the facts. OVG's plan is the best chance we have to get the Sonics back. I'm begging you to PLEASE check out the New Arena at Seattle Center's website, and look at the plans, and read the details for yourself.

Efforts to block this plan are essentially efforts to block the NHL and NBA's return to Seattle. We wanted an arena. We are getting a beautiful new arena, and there will be an NHL hockey team on the ice there in three years. The NBA will follow. This is incredibly exciting, and a GREAT thing for Seattle.

Let's be part of the solution here. Let's bring the NHL and NBA to Seattle.


A lot to digest and discuss there. Let us know what you think in the comments.

And for the record, Kraken.