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Three Dragons are better than none

The competition to return the NBA/NHL to Seattle heats up

Dave “Softy” Mahler from KJR KJR Sports Radio

If you have followed the saga of trying to return the NBA (and NHL) to Seattle, you know well that we’ve had more ups and downs than a roller coaster. Sadly, mostly downs. At moments the outcome has looked bleak, and more often than not it has been filled with frustration along the way. That may be changing.

If you watched the first season of Game of Thrones (GOT), you know the final episode where it seemed that all may be lost for Daenerys Targaryen - her husband and child were dead, their armies abandoned them. She walked into the funeral pyre - was this the end?

As Sonics fans, there’s been moments that felt just like that. A denied street vacation for instance. Was all hope lost?

In GOT, Daenerys arose from the ashes that next morning. Untouched by the fire. And rising with her were three dragons. Seattle now has three champions rising to build (or rebuild) an arena to enable the return of the Sonics.

Yesterday our founder, friend, co-laborer, and frequent voice of our movement Brian Robinson had the opportunity to go on to KJR and talk with Softy to share his thoughts on the arena competition situation in Seattle. If you missed it you can listen below.

Brian brings a needed voice of reason to the discussion about what it means having AEG and OVG both working on plans to remodel/rebuild/recreate KeyArena into a world class facility that could house the NBA/NHL/concerts and other civic events both for now and the future. Below are a few snippets of Brian’s thoughts (from our blog comments, Brian’s Facebook page, as well as his discussion with Softy).

Brian on Facebook talking about our role and approach as fans:

The difference I can make as a fan is marginal and in almost all cases involves supporting and cheering for the real players doing world class work on the floor. We are basically providing moral support and momentum to the people who are actually players in the game.

I learned that cheering can influence outcomes by watching a 7 game playoff series against the Utah Jazz. We screamed until our throats hurt and the collective decision to count down Karl Malone’s free throws changed the outcome of that series.

When Patrick Ewing's Knicks played against my Sonics I booed him, but when he was traded to the Sonics and played next to Gary Payton I cheered for him. When Gary Payton was traded for Ray Allen my heart was broken but I never booed Ray because he was wearing a Sonics jersey and I cheered for my team.

Now I'm cheering for team "Bring Back the Sonics" and I don't get all these fans who want to boo the new players.

I love [Chris Hansen] and will continue to root for his success in every way I can but I don't believe it is appropriate to boo AEG and OVG when they have joined our mission and are investing so much to bring a team back to Seattle.

If we allow our movement to be overcome by negativity then our movement will fail. We need to be cheering for the teams return while this window of opportunity exists.

Clarity that is needed in this conversation. We need to keep moving forward. Whatever option that leads to the return of the Sonics is the right option. We can’t afford to disregard any legitimate proposal. We need to understand our role as fans.

So are these new groups legitimate? From our comments section yesterday:

Tim Leiweke is the most distinguished arena developer on the planet.

He is real deal. A former NBA board of governors member. I know it is hard for a lot of people to accept but OVG and AEG are NOT MT Phoenix. Their interest in KeyArena does not make them pawns of Geoff Baker and the Port.

I support Chris Hansen and I have supported the Sodo Arena. I’ll continue to support ANY credible effort to bring the Sonics back and Leiweke is credible by any reasonable standard. He is probably top 5 people on the planet I would hope to have an ownership interest in the Sonics. If Chris Hansen had announced him as a partner I would have been THRILLED because he is beyond qualified.

So I don’t get the attacks and the animosity. I’m thrilled to have these high power players trying to bring the Sonics back and I can tell you that the only reason they are all so active is that it is closer to happening than it has been previously. No accident all this discussion has happened so quickly after the CBA was signed.

Lets see what the proposals say on April 12 and focus our energy making sure that there is a fair and impartial review of the deals. It’s up to Leiweke, Hansen and AEG to spend the next couple of months putting their best deal forward to settle the competition.

Brian reiterated this in his conversation with Softy:

A lot of legitimate, big names involved, and the reason they’re involved right now is I think they see an opportunity and the city of Seattle sees and opportunity. Everybody is trying to get a deal done.

And later in the radio show:

I think there is a lot of concern at city hall that all of the hope and optimism around these bids might come crashing down. So what I’ve been trying to tell everybody is “Let’s not make it one against the other. Let’s make it three options, three ownership groups, two sites and pick the best one for the city.”

Why now and what is at stake? From Softy’s show:

I think both of these development sites are looking into what the future development patterns of our city are going to look like. My concern is they accidentally kill SoDo, or they kill Sodo. SoDo just goes away, it becomes politically unpalatable and the council and the mayor do what you are saying [accepting an inferior solution at KeyArena] and move on, and then all of a sudden they find out that KeyArena isn’t viable, and they wind up with nothing. And I think the major take away that we have to have with the city of Seattle is that [a decision resulting in] nothing is unacceptable. You have to come to a conclusion to take advantage of this opportunity. The NBA settled their television contract a few years ago. They settled their collective bargaining agreement in December. The vote happened in late January. There is no coincidence that all these people are stomping down the door three weeks after the CBA got signed.

Dragons don’t just land in your lap every day. It’s more than a coincidence that two of the most well respected and successful arena development groups in the world are working on plans and proposals to be submitted April 12th. What matters now is that a deal gets done. There is real hope, legitimate hope, as hard as that may be for some of our more jaded readers. Let’s keep this moving forward. Let’s continue to build momentum. Let’s cheer and support whatever and whomever is working to return the Sonics to Seattle!