Mayor Harrell latest to pick up the torch on years-long effort to bring back the Sonics
The Sonics played their last game in Seattle in April of 2008, and in the years since, rumors of their return have swirled regularly. Now, Mayor Bruce Harrell is the latest city leader to take up the cause.
Talk of a potential expansion team in Seattle has come up as recently as 2021, when then-Mayor Jenny Durkan expressed how she was “pretty optimistic” about discussions she’d had with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. That was buoyed by a report from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst stating the conditions appeared to be “favorable” for the return of the Sonics, particularly as the league sought to recoup lost revenue from the pandemic. A year prior, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps said that Seattle was also likely to be “first in line” if the NBA did eventually expand past 30 teams in the near future.
In a speech delivered as part of a 60th anniversary celebration for the Seattle Monorail this week, Mayor Bruce Harrell again stoked the flames.
“Some of us remember when we would get on this thing and go to a Sonics game,” he recounted. “I’m not going to start any rumors, but we are working on that.”
Rumors or not, past mentions of efforts to bring the Sonics back home have almost always raised questions, with Harrell’s office clarifying his comment in a subsequent statement to MyNorthwest on Wednesday, pointing out that he “frequently met with leaders and groups committed to the team’s return” during his time on city council.
“Mayor Harrell recognizes the tremendous and lasting impact of the Sonics on building community morale and civic pride across Seattle,” spokesperson Jamie Housen wrote. “He’s continuing those discussions to ensure the Mayor’s Office and City of Seattle are active and engaged in efforts to bring the Sonics back.”
It’s been reported that in order to secure an expansion team, an ownership group would need to pay roughly $2.5 billion dollars in addition to having an NBA-caliber arena. With the newly-renovated Climate Pledge Arena opening to the public in October of 2021 — and currently playing host to the Kraken and Storm — the hope is that at least one major piece of the puzzle has fallen into place.
Whether that will finally see a years-long wish from Seattle sports fans come to fruition remains to be seen.