The group behind the effort to bring an NHL expansion franchise to Seattle has made it known this week that bringing the NBA back to Seattle Center is a priority. And after Thursday’s success with an NHL season ticket drive that saw 25,000 deposits made within an hour, Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke indicated that it sent a message to NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
“He’s very aware what happened, he knows the passion of the fans,” Leiweke told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny, Dave and Moore on Thursday afternoon. “We never get ahead of commissioners, we stay in touch with commissioners, and I think everyone knows what happened today in Seattle and everyone’s blown away.”
Leiweke added that while there may be a perception that the NBA has a dislike for Seattle – likely referencing the Seattle SuperSonics being moved to Oklahoma City and the league blocking a purchase of the Sacramento Kings by Chris Hansen a few years later – that is not the case.
“I occasionally read stories saying that the league hates Seattle or the commissioner hates Seattle — couldn’t be further from the truth,” Leiweke said. “Adam loves Seattle.”
While the NHL seems to be well on its way to Seattle for the 2020-21 season, there has been no progress with the NBA, which is not presently considering expansion. But the OVG team is prepared to be patient when it comes to bringing pro basketball back to the city.
“There’s just no team today,” Leiweke said of the NBA. “They’re not going through an expansion process and no teams are moving. That does not mean that will always be the case.”
As for what comes next after Thursday’s big start to the NHL season ticket drive, Leiweke shared a quick look.
“I think the next thing you’ll see out of us is within five days we’ll start getting back to people (who made season ticket deposits) and give them priority numbers so they know where they stand on the list,” he said. “We’ll begin to put a management team together. Although we can’t go out and actually begin to put a hockey management team together, we can put a business management team together. So we’d like to find someone that will run this that is familiar with Seattle and well respected in Seattle, and we’re working on that.”