2021 is year to focus on getting Sonics back to Seattle, arena group head says

by Kevin Nesgoda

Tim Leiweke says this year is the time to focus on bringing the beloved SuperSonics back to Seattle and the NBA. Go ahead and get excited.

The CEO of Oak View Group, the developers behind Seattle’s new Climate Pledge Arena, responded to a Twitter post on Sunday regarding the Sonics. He says the group “must make our case to [the] NBA that we have an opportunity to do the right thing.”

It’s a somewhat surprising public comment on the effort, especially one unsolicited, but another welcome one for the Green and Gold faithful.

The Seattle Kraken hockey club is set to take the ice for the first time this fall, helping to open Climate Pledge Arena, a $930 million redevelopment of the former KeyArena.

“The Key,” and its original life as the Seattle Center Coliseum, served as home to the Sonics for the majority of their 41 years in the Emerald City.

The hockey ownership group, led by investor David Bonderman and Hollywood film producer Jerry Bruckheimer, has expressed interest in owning a new Sonics team.

Talk of expansion in the NBA has recently begun heating up. Commissioner Adam Silver revealed that the league has been analyzing the prospect, if not actively pushing to add teams just yet.

Seattle is a presumptive favorite to land a team if and when the growth to 32 clubs gets a green light. Still, Leiweke continued that they need to make the league “appreciate 41 years of loyalty” from the city.

With extensive experience as an executive in both the NBA and the NHL, Leiweke has long maintained a public position of not “getting ahead” of the leagues and commissioners regarding relocation or expansion. He recently told the Seattle Times the arena group and team ownership are “100% ready” when the NBA decides to go formal on a process.

Nothing’s a lock, but things certainly seem ripe for opportunity.

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