Fan Groups (AGAIN!) Trying to Bring NBA Back to Seattle
Apparently losing their memory over how the team was not very well supported the last few years they were in the Emerald City, several fan groups have again started drives to try to bring the Sonics back to Seattle. They've been without a team for nearly 8 years now, since the franchise moved to Oklahoma City, where they've been selling out games for years now.
Because the team changed it's name to the Thunder when they relocated to Oklahoma City, IF the NBA were to grant a franchise to return, they could be called the Sonics.
Once a proud, mostly-winning franchise (1979 NBA title, Runner-up in 1978 and numerous other division titles), the team fell into disarray the last few years, to the point where their #1 draft choices included Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook. Fans say 'imagine if the team had stayed, they would be as good as the Thunder.'
There are still a few old pictures of Durant in action sporting a Sonics uniform, but a lot of people don't believe they're real. They are.
Now, nearly three years after former Commissioner David Stern slammed the door on the Sacramento Kings relocating, citizens groups are again trying to bring back a team. The Kings were on the verge of relocating, being the 'sad sack' of the league. Despite some terrific talent, they're still pretty much in the cellar. But three years ago, they were close to leaving the capital city of California.
But thanks to work from some former King's players and officials, they did push through a new arena, which will be ready next year, and also, by a vote of 22-8, the NBA owners and Board of Commissioners said 'NO' to relocating them up north.
A group called Sonics Rising is staging a rally March 15th, when the city is going to decide if they want to set aside a two block area in Downtown Seattle that would provide space for a potential arena that could house and NBA and even NHL team. The rally, as publicized on their Facebook page, will be at Seattle City Hall.
But only 442 people are interested, and 263 are going, according to their page Friday. Hardly the support needed. It's reminiscent of how the community didn't support the team.
The last two years, they were not only the worst marketed team in the league, fans stayed away in droves. You couldn't get Sonic games on the radio in Tri-Cities, nobody wanted the radio contract-the terms were horrible, and nobody could sell it.
Seattle likes to brag how well they support their teams, but they seem to forget during the Tyrone Willingham era at UW (0-12) Husky stadium was half-full. Prior to the Seahawks getting good a few years ago, they continually ranked mid to lower pack in NFL attendance and support.
And in 2008 shortly before the Sonics left, bleacherreport.com ranked them among the Ten WORST professional sports franchises...actually, their fans! The Sonics ranked 28th in attendance prior to their leaving town. They also noted the Mariners were, at that time, ranked 18th in MLB attendance.
Ultimately, the reason the team left was because owner Clay Bennett was unable to garner support for a $500 million arena in the Renton area to house the team, replacing the aging, obsolete Seattle Center Coliseum (KeyArena). After lawsuits, and one of the most bitter battles in professional sports history, Bennett was allowed to leave after forking over $45 million in a settlement with city officials, who got no promise of a replacement team.
Former Commissioner David Stern frowned on the city's behavior, and under his watch, any attempt to move a team back there was thwarted. But who could blame him? The city didn't exactly support the team the last years there.
As for attracting an NHL team, these fans seem to recall the city officials don't exactly support the WHL's Thunderbirds either. The T-Birds now play their games out of the Show-Ware Center in Kent, which seats about 6,500 and is also a multi-purpose facility.
If they can't even support a solid Western Hockey League franchise, how on earth will they lure an NBA team back? In 2012, a rally was held that was well-attended, trying to show support for some proposals that could have attracted an NBA back to town.
But why weren't all those fans in Pioneer Square attending games less than three years earlier? For now, all you can do is buy Sonics hats, t-shirts and jackets at sporting apparel stores-an ironic salute to futility and failure.