SEATTLE — “You can just feel your heart sink down to your ankles,” said Sonics fan Dave Vahey. “It’s just a horrible feeling.”
That was Vahey’s reaction to the NBA Relocation Committees’ recommendation that the Kings don’t leave Sacramento.
The NBA said its committee, which is composed of seven team owners, voted against the Maloof family’s proposed sale of the team to Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who lobbied to move the team to Seattle and build a new arena to host the team. Hansen has spent millions of dollars purchasing land in the SoDo district where a new arena was proposed to be built.
“It feels like somebody took away a kid you didn’t have a chance to adopt,” said Vahey.
The recent resurgence in the Sonic movement has also fed Vahey’s growing t-shirt business over the last few years, though he now admits the hundreds of “We’re Back” shirts may be headed to Goodwill.
If the deal to bring the Kings to Seattle is dead, Mayor Mike McGinn is still optimistic that Hansen will find a team. The arena agreement with the city and county is for five years.
“We’ve got a great market, we’ve got a great arena deal, and we’ve got a great fan base, and we’ll just play our hand.” said McGinn. “ We’re a good place for an NBA team.”
Chris Hansen himself is still optimistic about the Kings deal.
He issued a statement that said, in part:
“While we are disappointed with the relocation committee’s recommendation, we just wanted to let you all know that we remain fully committed to seeing this transaction through … we plan to unequivocally state our case for both relocation and our plan to move forward with the transaction to the league and owners at the upcoming Board of Governor’s Meeting in Mid-May … I just wanted to reassure all of you that we have numerous options at our disposal and have absolutely no plans to give up.”
Hansen believes he can still convince NBA owners his deal is the best when they meet to vote on May 13th.
If they shoot down the binding deal, KJR Sportsradio host Ian Furness, who has followed the Sonics saga since day one, isn’t sure what .
“I know they spoke last night as a group and they are trying to figure out what the next step is,” said Furness. “It’s the great unknown and I don’t think Chris Hansen really, truly, knows what’s next.”
One of the options would be a lawsuit from the Seattle group.
It’s a depressing thought for Dave Vahey, but he believes the ultimate outcome, now or later, is the return of the Sonics.
He has thousands of sold t-shirts to back him up.
“The fire is lit, the city is ready to rock and roll and there’s no way the NBA’s going to stop Seattle now.”
Vahey is already selling a new T-shirt that he said is going like hot cakes, dedicated to NBA Commisioner, David Stern. Here’s a link to his website: