Tim Leiweke, head of the Oak View Group, is focused on bringing the NHL first to a renovated Seattle Center arena. “Let’s be honest here,” Leiweke says. “There is no NBA team to be had today.”
The head of a company planning a $564 million renovation of KeyArena says he’s “passionate’’ about bringing an NBA team to town, but there just aren’t any imminently available.
And that’s why Tim Leiweke, head of the Los Angeles-based Oak View Group, insists he’s hyper-focused on bringing the NHL here. Leiweke, who met Thursday with The Seattle Times editorial board ahead of speaking at the GeekWire Sports Tech Summit at CenturyLink Field, said he’s heard local commentary about how he’s not as committed to the NBA as Sodo District arena proponent Chris Hansen.
“Some people want to yell that I’m not passionate about basketball,’’ said Leiweke, who oversaw operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors. “That’s incorrect. I’m more passionate about basketball than about hockey, if you look at my tenure in my last 30 years of where I’ve spent my time.’’
Leiweke noted that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suggested three weeks ago during the NBA Finals that expansion was likely several years from happening. That means, Leiweke added, that OVG can best spend its efforts landing an NHL franchise he suggests would be imminent once he completes a deal with the city.
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“I seem to be the only one willing to step up and say ‘Folks, here’s the reality of the situation we face. Let’s be honest here,’ ’’ Leiweke said. “There is no NBA team to be had today.’ And if there is one to be had, we will be the first ones on it and we have an ownership group and partners that have the ability of going and chasing that team.’’
Brian Surratt, who headed up the KeyArena renovation process for the City of Seattle…