Why many Seattle NBA fans prefer Sodo arena project over KeyArena rebuild

Many Seattle sports fans are holding back their enthusiasm despite the impressive prospect of a sparkling KeyArena upgrade. They simply haven’t been convinced that the Oak View Group’s Tim Leiweke is as committed as Chris Hansen to getting the NBA back to Seattle.

No one can deny that Tim Leiweke commands a room.

At Mayor Ed Murray’s news conference Wednesday to announce Leiweke’s Oak View Group as the city’s preferred partner for a KeyArena remodel, Leiweke was a veritable force of nature, selling his project with vigor and force.

His pronouncements were, in many cases, unequivocal:

“We will get it done, and we will build it on time.”

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“This will be a world-class facility. It will be top of the NHL and the NBA for economics.”

“Go ask the commissioners, and they’ll tell you, the group we’ve put together is as good a group as has ever been put together to go chase franchises.”

“We made a commitment from day one we were going to go get you teams. And we are going to do that. … We’re going to get you a team. Mark it right here. I promise you.”

But despite all the bravado, despite the sparkling bona fides of the business partnerships Leiweke has procured, despite his impeccable connections within both the NBA and NHL, there remains a nagging doubt. And it goes beyond the huge skepticism about how a new KeyArena would overcome the immense traffic and parking challenges in lower Queen Anne. It goes beyond even the disdain for a political process in Seattle that can seem pre-ordained and unfair.

At one point Wednesday, Leiweke acknowledged that he reads the comment section in various arena discussions “more than I should.” So he should be well-versed in one of the main reasons many Seattle sports fans are holding back their enthusiasm despite the impressive prospect of a sparkling arena upgrade.

They simply haven’t been convinced…

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