Not so fast on Kings-to-Seattle talk

February 8, 2012, 8:05 pm
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Nothing warms the heart like stadium rumors. Honest. Infants, puppies, acts of human kindness without expectation of reward -- they all pale in significance to a good someone-wants-to-build-something-and-is-looking-for-tenants story.

So it is that the new Kings-to-Seattle rumors, like the Raiders-to-L.A. rumors, and the Coyotes-to-Quebec-City rumors, all strike a heartwarming and responsive chord, or should.

There is, after all, no other way to get people all ginned up about throwing money at rich folks than to wave the possibility of having the rich folks sell the company.

The current rumor, which was pushed along by a Seattle Times story showing that Seattle native Christopher Hansen has been meeting with public officials for months about building an arena by Safeco Field and Qwest Field just south of downtown, and need tenants to help make the idea seem more like reality and less like a nutcase off his meds.

The Times story cites documents that the officials and Hansen have been monitoring the situation in Sacramento, where the Maloofs remains money-squeezed, in an arena they have wanted to leave for a decade, with a team they couldnt move to Anaheim a year ago.

Monitoring. As in, We got nothing, but if we did, theyd be available.

Since Hansen would also want a hockey team to help eat another 45 to 50 dates, the Times story also mentioned Phoenix, although Columbus, the New York Islanders and about six other teams could be had for the usual bag of Tootsie Roll Pops.

But the arena is still a myth wrapped in a rumor swaddled in uncertainty, because Hansen is talking to those public officials with an eye toward making the city and perhaps King County lay out a lot of the jack required to get that arena built. This is, of course, backwards.

Seattle lost its SuperSonics not because it couldnt get an arena built, but because Clay Bennett went to the trouble of buying the team first, and then said, Build something for me or I will move it to my home town. Thats hardball. Thats leverage. Thats how teams get lifted and moved.

And since there is no arena in Seattle currently planned, and since Hansen doesnt own the Kings or seem to have a public interest in buying them, what the Times has is a guy making out a shopping list.

Now maybe he has talked to the Maloofs about buying; nobody is saying anything about that. After all, the only thing better than being a tenant is being a landlord, and this way, Hansen could conceivably be both.

Seattle is in the position of trying to Oklahoma City Sacramento, the way Oklahoma City did Seattle, and it worked only because the team was bought by a guy who didnt care if his team played where it was or in his own hometown. But Bennett had the arena in OKC already built, and waiting for a tenant -- him.

If Hansen wants to scare the hell out of Sacramento, or make Seattle want to take money it doesnt have for other projects and put it into this project, hed have a much better chance if he had the team already and could play the same bait-dangling game with the Kings that Bennett did with the Sonics.

And until he can do that, all hes done is provide us with an arena rumor. A touching, impressive, and very plausible arena rumor, sure, but just a rumor.

And in this case, since its still at the meeting stage, it doesnt even rise to the level of puppies.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for