On the eve of a season ticket drive for a potential NHL expansion team in Seattle, prospective majority owner David Bonderman made it clear that he won’t be content on just bringing a pro hockey franchise to a new arena at Seattle Center.
“If there’s a basketball franchise available, we’re gonna go after it,” Bonderman told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock and Salk on Wednesday.
Bonderman is no stranger to the NBA – he’s currently a minority owner in the Boston Celtics – so it can only be seen as good news for Seattle that a person with his connections will be joining the Oak View Group in a pursuit of a NBA franchise.
First thing is first, however, and Bonderman and OVG CEO Tim Leiweke stressed how important the NHL season ticket drive will be to show not just the NHL but also the NBA that Seattle is ready to support new winter pro sports teams.
“Our goal is to get as many people as we can in this process with deposits to prove to the NHL and to prove to everybody else out there watching how great the teams are gonna do here, regardless of what league we’re talking about,” Leiweke said. “… There is an enormous amount of pent-up support, passion and emotion for winter sports and getting a franchise back here, and I think that we have an opportunity to send a message to the industry, to the leagues. And from my standpoint, everyone I run into now is over the moon, so there’s never been a doubt about Seattle.”
Added Bonderman: “It’s the largest city in North America that has no winter (pro) sports. It’s a great sports town, it’s a place that’s thriving, it’s a place that’s hungry for some sports, and we think we can deliver.”