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Prospective Seattle NHL Owners: We’re Interested in Seattle NBA Team

KeyArena renovation Oak View Group

As their push for a Seattle NHL expansion franchise continues, the prospective team’s owners are expressing interest in a role with a Seattle NBA team. 

Last month, the Oak View Group and the prospective Seattle NHL franchise’s ownership group–led by billionaire David Bonderman and producer Jerry Bruckheimer–submitted its expansion application. A season-ticket drive for the Seattle NHL expansion franchise began on Thursday and, if the bid receives formal approval, the group could launch the team as early as 2020.

The Seattle NHL expansion franchise’s debut would coincide with the completion of a major renovation to KeyArena. Oak View Group will carry out that $600-million renovation, which will raise the venue to modern NBA and NHL standards and could help to put the city in a position to land franchises in both leagues. The NHL is the more imminent possibility at this point, but Seattle has desired a new NBA team since the Seattle SuperSonics departed for Oklahoma City in 2008. Should the opportunity arise down the road, both Bonderman and Bruckheimer say they would be interesting in having an ownership stake in a Seattle NBA team. More from The Seattle Times:

On the subject of reviving the NBA Supersonics, Bonderman and Bruckheimer insisted they would do what it takes to bring a basketball franchise here and become owners in that as well. Bonderman, already a minority owner in the Boston Celtics, said he is prepared to sell his stake in that team so he could become a Sonics owner here.

“It makes a lot of sense, actually,’’ Bonderman said. “And if there’s a franchise on offer, we would be in the thick of the fray trying to bring it home to Seattle.’’

Bonderman said his fellow NBA owners already hold Seattle in high regard.

“I think it’s fair to say that everybody I’ve talked to among the NBA owners think that we’re doing the right thing by coming to Seattle,’’ Bonderman said. “A lot of them said ‘Why hockey? Why not NBA?’ And what we said to them is ‘We love hockey and it’s the place to start here.’ ’’

For a number of reasons, it has been apparent that the NHL is a more immediate fit for Seattle. The league will consider Seattle’s expansion pitch at a point where it has 31 teams, only 10 of which play west of the Mississippi River. Meanwhile, in the NBA, there do not appear to be any existing teams seeking to relocate, so expansion of the 30-team league would be the most logical path for Seattle to enter the circuit. There are some other decent markets besides Seattle that could be in the mix, but the NBA has yet to announce an expansion process of its own. (Our own Kevin Reichard took a closer look at this situation in December.)

Pending further approval, including the completion of a final Environmental Impact Statement, Oak View Group will look to begin work on the KeyArena renovation later this year. That could allow it to be finished in time for the 2020-21 NHL season.

Rendering courtesy Oak View Group.

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