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Seattle still hungry for NBA as preseason game tickets sell fast

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Seattle basketball fans buy 12,000 tickets in the first hour

Golden State Warriors

Seattle hoops fans still show up to support the NBA, even though the beloved SuperSonics have been gone for more than a decade now.

On Tuesday morning, tickets for the preseason game between the reigning champion Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings at KeyArena on Friday, October 5th went on sale. Within the first hour, fans of the green and gold had purchased 12,000 tickets. The hunger for world class professional men’s basketball is still alive in the Emerald City.

Tickets went on sale at 10 am Pacific Time for the first NBA game of any kind in Seattle since April 2008. As of this afternoon, a smattering of single seats were still available in the lower bowl. KeyArena’s official capacity for basketball is 17,072. It’s likely the game will be a sellout by the end of the day.

Since the Seattle club, which had played in front of this Northwest crowd for 41 seasons, left for the plains of Oklahoma, Sonics fans have had a bitter and often cold relationship with the NBA. The desire to see the club return, though, has long burned fierce. In 2013, in preparation for a new arena and the potential to buy and relocate the Sacramento Kings, over 44,000 fans pledged to purchase season tickets and multi-game packages in an effort to demonstrate the passionate fervor for basketball that still existed in the city.

On the verge of a new arena deal that would see the interior of KeyArena completely demolished and replaced with a building with a larger footprint and nearly twice as much space, the city and developer have been courting a potential NHL franchise. The league authorized a season ticket drive to gauge hockey fan interest, and in March the sports world was stunned when 25,000 deposits were placed within the first hour. The day ended with 33,000 deposits and 4,000 on a waiting list.

This was noticed not only by the NHL but by the NBA as well. A dearth of professional winter season sports in Seattle is calling out to be capitalized upon. Today’s sales continue to underscore that point.

Speaking with KOMO News in line at the KeyArena box office, Sonics Rising’s Brian Robinson called the game “a great opportunity for the NBA and Seattle to get to know each other again.” He further offered, “I think people have a lot of emotions around the NBA’s departure, and I think we’re going to go in, and we’re going to heal, and get excited and get ready for the next chapter in bringing the Sonics back.”

Though the Kings will coincidentally represent the “home” team in the preseason match, the Warriors front office was quick to set the event in motion. Golden State president Rick Welts is a Seattle native and one time ballboy for the Sonics. He had looked at opportunities for the Dubs to play in the preseason in Seattle in the past, but nothing had come together until now. It’s only fitting that Kevin Durant, the last superstar drafted by the Sonics to take the court for them, will return to play in front of this rabid crowd.

The city is expected to approve the project for the arena renovation at Seattle Center next month, a significant milestone in a saga that dates back nearly 20 years, prior to former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s purchase of the Sonics. Schultz would eventually sell the team to the Oklahoma City interests because of an inability to get a new arena done.

The Warriors-Kings game will be the last event held at KeyArena, an apt closing of one chapter and start of another.