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If NBA returns to Seattle, build an arena in Federal Way | Sidelines

Could it be? Could the National Basketball Association return to Seattle?

I honestly have no idea, but like Lloyd Christmas told Mary Swanson in one of the most dramatic scenes in the classic tour de force “Dumb and Dumber:”

“So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”

That’s all I need to know. I just want that slight glimmer of hope about possibly watching professional basketball once again in Seattle. And the New Orleans Hornets gave me that ability to dream a little bit last week.

The Hornets’ franchise and owner George Shinn are in such bad financial straits that the NBA is stepping in to buy the team. The move is a historic one by the league. The thought is that the franchise will eventually be sold and moved.

This is where Seattle enters the picture. But there are still a ton of questions that must be answered before I buy my new/old Seattle SuperSonics jersey.

Things like, does the Puget Sound area even want another NBA franchise after the debacle of the Sonics moving after 40 years in Seattle? If so, where is the team going to play? Is Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer still willing to throw around his considerable wealth to get the NBA back? Are taxpayers going to be asked to flip the bill for KeyArena renovations or building a new arena, or is there private money available? The list goes on and on and on.

Literally, there are thousands of questions associated with bringing the New Orleans Hornets to Seattle. But they are questions that could easily be answered with some hard work.

The Hornets have a lease agreement with their current arena in New Orleans. But, as we all know in this neck of the woods, arena lease agreements mean absolutely nothing when trying to keep an NBA franchise from packing up the moving trucks.

The Hornets need to average 14,735 fans by the end of January. If they don’t, the team can get out of its lease for just a $10 million penalty. The club would have to let them know by March 31, 2011, that they wish to end the lease.

KeyArena was the sticking point when the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City during the summer of 2008. The NBA has already stated that it’s an antiquated building for a professional basketball team and needs renovations, or a new facility needs to be constructed. That hasn’t changed.

And I believe the only way that Seattle is going to get another NBA franchise is if it’s done entirely with private money. I just can’t see the taxpayers in King County or state lawmakers allocating money to renovate KeyArena or building a state-of-the-art facility for the new Sonics.

A public vote would go down in flames, no doubt about it.

That’s where Ballmer and his Microsoft money enter the picture, if he is still interested in owning an NBA franchise.

And if there is to be a new arena constructed to house a new NBA franchise, Federal Way might be the perfect location. We are located smack dab in the middle of the two biggest cities in the region, Seattle and Tacoma, and right off main thoroughfares like Interstate 5, Highways 167, 99 and 18.

Federal Way’s location allows for basketball fans from north, south and east to access an arena with relative simplicity.

City officials have also been looking for something that attracts people to Federal Way to spend money. A new multi-purpose arena would do exactly that. Not only would 15,000 people attend 41 NBA games during the regular season (as well as playoff games), but the facility could also host concerts, conventions, boat shows, RV shows, wrestling, graduations, etc.

In my dream world, there would also be the potential, down the road, to attract a National Hockey League franchise to the arena.

Know this: I’m totally speaking out of my backside about this arena deal in Federal Way. I have no idea if there is even a parcel of land big enough to construct an NBA-worthy building in town. I don’t know who actually owns this possible property or how any of this would be paid for.

I also have no idea why the CEO of Microsoft would want his team to play its home games in South King County and not somewhere like Bellevue or Redmond.

But I can dream, can’t I?

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