BY Art Thiel 09:50PM 03/14/2013

Thiel: Ticket pledge drive ‘insane,’ says Hansen

Ticket wait-list campaign crashes servers Thursday, but once restored, surpassed “our most optimistic assumptions,” said arena builder Chris Hansen.

The look of the seating configuration from midcourt of Hansen’s proposed arena, including the novel “Sonics rings” of seats perched high in the steeply pitched building. / 360 Architects

Predictably, the opportunity to join an online waiting list to purchase Sonics tickets for the maybe season of 2013 made for traffic that smoked the site’s servers. It made for good theater, too, even if the principals behind the move, Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, could have deployed an entire server farm.

“That was insane!” Hansen wrote on his blog post Thursday night at www.sonicsarena.com. “I would just like to start off by both thanking all of you for the overwhelming response, and apologizing for the site going down this morning. While we thought we had planned our peak capacity for even the most optimistic of sign-up assumptions, you clearly overwhelmed those!”

Hansen’s group announced Tuesday that it would take signups starting at 10 a.m. for tickets. No prices were provided nor was money taken, which would have thinned the traffic considerably. But in the campaign to win hearts (??) and minds of NBA owners deciding between Seattle and Sacramento, the gesture showed attempted to demonstrate passion for NBA ball that has been gone almost five years.

“While the first day clearly blew away our expectations, we would just like to continue to encourage those of you who have not signed up to do so,” Hansen continued, “and for everyone to continue to forward the request link to your friends, family, and co-workers you think are interested. Our current plan is to keep the priority list open through April 1, after which we will announce the results.”

That deadline is two days before the first of two convenings in New York that will decide whether to relocate the Kings to Seattle, where Hansen is attempting to build a $490 million basketball/hockey arena. He has a signed agreement to purchase the team, including a $30 million nonrefundable deposit, but the league reserves the right to approve the sale as well as relocation.

In a public campaign in Sacramento to advocate keeping the Kings, Mayor Kevin Johnson has put out information on the two markets that unsurprisingly reflects the California capital as the superior choice, citing attendance figures before the club’s owners, the Maloof family, fell into financial ruin, and few competitors for the entertainment dollar.

Hansen’s crew avoided a can’t-win strategy of denigrating Sacramento and instead used the “priority waitlist” campaign of signups that created an email list for potential purhasers of tickets for two or three seasons in KeyArena as well as the new arena. They have supplemented the campaign by releasing architectural renderings of the building’s interior and exterior, virtually guaranteed to elicit emotional responses from fans.

Meanwhile, in Sacramento, lawyers for a group opposing the potential commitment of tax money to the proposed new arena for downtown said that if the public subsidy is similar to a previous proposal, will file a referendum petition to put the issue before voters.

A public vote would be a serious blow to Sacramento’s hopes, but there is speculation that the subsidy, since it does not involve new taxes, is not subject to the referendum process.

The proposed Sonics arena in SoDo at night./ 360 Architects

 


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