Speaking at a civic cocktail hour just hours after Mayor Ed Murray announced the Oak View Group as the new KeyArena developers, Sonics Arena team members Chris Hansen and Russell Wilson spoke about both OVG’s plan as well as their own project.
“I’ll tip my cap to Tim and the Oak View Group if they actually are able to solve the problems that are around there (KeyArena) and get the arena done and on-time and on-budget,” Hansen said.
Leiweke earlier in the day announced his new partners, David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer, who would be seeking an NHL team to play in a renovated KeyArena. To date, Hansen has no such partner. At the same time, he invited Hansen to join a similar group to bring an NBA team as well. Hansen said the two have not spoken privately and did not directly answer the invitation, but did seemingly support the OVG bid if it ultimately brings teams back to Seattle.
“Our goal is to get the NBA and NHL back to Seattle. We would be supportive of any plan that does that.”
As for Hansen’s next move, he said that his simply needs to “sit back and be patient.”
“We started in 2011, and last I checked we’re still waiting for a street vacation,” he said. "We have the best site and the best location. I would just hope the council and community would chime in on that fact at the right time."
Hansen has used this wait-and-see approach since the beginning, putting his best offer on the table and waiting for it to pass or fail on its own merits. It seemed a fine strategy when he was the only player in the game, but the game has changed. Hansen was criticized by some for not being more visible in the weeks leading up to the first street vacation vote, which ultimately failed by a vote of 4-5.
It was believed that the team brought in Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to lead the politicking and public image portion of the team. While the two, along with former Sonic Wally Walker, did meet with council member Lorena Gonzalez in February, there has been little other movement in that regard, at least that is publicly known. Hansen did, however, say that his team would “encourage the City Council to approve our plan” over the next few months.
“I definitely think we’re still alive, and we like close games,” added Wilson.
Murray expects the City Council to vote on the OVG proposal by the end of the year, but they legally cannot until after December 4th, which is when Hansen’s MOU with the city expires. A new vote on Hansen’s street vacation application has yet to be scheduled.