BY SPNW Staff 10:08PM 03/11/2013

Hansen makes a move: Sonics ticket waitlist

Chris Hansen is busting a PR move, drumming up action by creating a “priority ticket waitlist” for future Sonics games this fall at KeyArena.

In his first public remarks since his offer to buy the Sacramento Kings was accepted, Hansen will open a list on his website,, at 10 a.m. Thursday that invites fans to sign up so he can get an idea of demand. KING5 TV first reported the news late Monday afternoon.

Hansen wrote on the site that “registering your interest will be a critical step in demonstrating to the NBA and basketball fans around the country the unbelievable passion that exists in the Emerald City to BRING BACK OUR SONICS!”

Hansen was careful not to get out over his skis, because the purchase and relocation is not yet done. The deal faces a counteroffer from Sacramento to keep the Kings, and the NBA has asked the parties not to speak about the deals or NBA actions.

But there is no ban on speaking with supporters about, well, support.

Hansen wrote: “It’s also important that we reiterate that no inference should be drawn between our establishment of the Priority Ticket Waitlist and our efforts to close our acquisition of the Sacramento Kings. We are in the midst of working through the approval and relocation process with the NBA, and we would expect a determination to be made at the Board of Governors meeting in mid-April.

“If our efforts prove successful, we anticipate a Sonics sales team member will contact you in May to discuss available seating options. However, a confirmation of your status on the Priority Ticket Waitlist should in no way be seen as a guarantee of tickets.”

Hansen has put down a $30 million nonrefundable deposit to buy the Kings, besides the nearly $60 million he spent acquiring land in SoDo, and an unknown amount in pre-development costs for a $490 million basketball/hockey arena. He has already requested dates to play at KeyArena this fall.

NBA Commissioner David Stern said Friday that he has asked for Seattle and Sacramento make their cases at a special meeting of the league’s relocation and finances committees in New York April 3. Clay Bennett, the owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder that was the Sonics until the city released the team from its lease for $45 million in 2008, heads the relocation committee. NBA owners are scheduled to vote on the franchise purchase and relocation April 19.

“From the incredible outpouring of emotion from the 5,000 of you who showed up for our rally, to the relentless outreach to the City and County Councils and the legions sporting the Green and Gold in our city, we would never have reached this point without all of you!” Hansen gushed on his webiste. “With this in mind, I’m reaching out to ask for your help once more. It’s the home stretch people and we really need your support on this to help carry us past the finish line!”

A spokesperson for Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn told KING5  there are “no plans right now” for the mayor to be at the April 3 meeting.


  • Leon Russell

    “From the incredible outpouring of emotion from the 5,000 of you who showed up for our rally, to the relentless outreach to the City and County Councils and the legions sporting the Green and Gold in our city, we would never have reached this point without all of you!” ”
    And how many of those “thousands” have the money to buy NBA season tickets? About 3?

    • Out of 30 Teams, the Sacramento Kings the last 5 years have been one of the NBA worst teams if not the worst team in attendance: 2009 – 30th Dead last, 2010 – 29th Next to dead last, 2011 – 29th Next to dead last again, 2012 – 27th out of 30, 2013 – 30th Dead last. How many fans buying season tickets in SAC??? none.

      • art thiel

        Those are years covering the financial crisis after 2008, the Maloofs disinvestment and the state of California’s slew of municipal bankruptcies occasioned by employment collapse and absence of tax revs. A bad scene for a town whose only industry was state govt.

        Earlier, Sactown also led the league in percentage of capacity sold.

    • art thiel

      That’s going to be a test. But even in the five years since the Sonics left, there’s a whole subset of tech geeks in the market making $80K+ who will look upon this as a fresh cooi thing.

      • Leon Russell

        I don’t think the NBA is considered a “fresh cool thing” by much of anyone. Nice theory, with nothing to back it up. Those tech geeks all moved her from other places, most of which probably had an NBA team. It’s more likely that they consider the Sounders a “fresh new thing” and are one reason the Sounders are drawing so well.

        • art thiel

          Agreed on the Sounders. But do not underestimate how swiftly American pop culture changes, especially in a transient-rich Seattle.

  • “The deal faces a counteroffer from Sacramento to keep the Kings” Presently there is no deal from SAC. There is no Bid, No Arena Deal and Financial Infrastructure from Mastrov and Birkle, since Stern threw the last feeble attempt back in their faces. The clock is ticiking with only 17 business days and 23 calendars to April 3rd

    • art thiel

      Stern wouldn’t have invited Sactown to meet him in NY April 3 if there wasn’t a counteroffer. Just because it isn’t fast enough for you doesn’t mean that it’s vapor. Stern told them to pick it up Friday because he wants two competitive bids.

  • jafabian

    Hansen has got to be shaking his head on this. He’s gotta be going “Present my case? AGAIN????”

    • art thiel

      This is the hardest part of his whole gig: Pulling a team away from a fan base that wants to keep it.

      • jafabian

        The more the NBA moves teams, the more fair-weather their fanbase becomes. The only fans they’ll have are the ones in NBA cities and those fans will be the ones who can afford to be one as the NBA prices tickets and merchandise higher and higher. At some point something has to give.

  • What a deft move by Hansen. If we get this team, I think it will owe to Hansen’s savviness more than anything else. Perhaps it is a result of living in this city and having to endure the past and present ineptitude of our city’s sports teams’s front offices, but Hansen seems to possess an acute understanding on the financial, public, and political considerations that go into operating a professional sports team.

    Given Stern’s recent comments that Sacramento’s counteroffer is “not quite there,” it looks as though Hansen is trying to close the deal by focusing attention on matters where Sacramento cannot compete. With Stern’s admission that Hansen’s offer elevates the value of the league more than the Sacramento group, Hansen is now offering a reminder that Seattle is a much larger and more prestigious media market through this priority ticket wait list.

    I am curious to know what Hansen might have planned in the way of an announcement about the results of this wait list. I wouldn’t be surprised to see something occur at the end of the month. You know, just another friendly reminder about the superior nature of his financial offer, our amenable political climate, and level of fan enthusiasm for a return of the SuperSonics.

    • art thiel

      Not sure ticket pledges to a so-far-unpurchased team is much of a metric. I do think it’s a decent PR counter-strategy, but its influence on Stern/BOG is negligible. And you’re right about Hansen’s savviness, presuming he navigates the EIS.