Storm Opens Discussions with Hansen

Kevin Pelton, | July 23, 2012

With the possible return of the NBA to Seattle, the Storm organization has begun discussions about how the team's future fits into a picture that could include a new multi-purpose arena in the Sodo area. On Thursday, Chris Hansen, the leader of the ownership group that hopes to bring the NBA back, met with Storm counterparts Lisa Brummel and Ginny Gilder from Force 10 Hoops LLC at the Storm's business offices.

"I thought we had a good opening discussion with Chris Hansen," said Brummel. "Thursday in particular was just kind of a 'get to know you.' We haven't really sat down for any length of time with Chris. It was a first time to sit down and really introduce his business and understand his broad thinking.

"I think over time, as this heats up and as the plans for the arena get more defined and as the plans for KeyArena get more defined, we're happy to be a partner with him and the city in those discussions figuring out what works best for the Storm - Storm fans and the Storm business."

Currently, the Memorandum of Understanding reached by Hansen with Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine is in front of the Seattle and King County Councils. If approved, the MOU would allow construction on a new arena south of Safeco Field to begin as soon as Hansen and his ownership group have secured an NBA tenant for the facility.

Part of what the city is weighing is the future of KeyArena, the Storm's home. Hansen has expressed interest in operating KeyArena and has outlined three possible futures, including conversion to a theater venue or exhibition space. This has led to speculation about whether the Storm will continue to play at KeyArena or might move to the new arena when it is completed.

"We're looking into both possible options," Brummel explained. "It makes sense to evaluate both in terms of what will make the most sense for us and our fans."

That means ongoing dialogue between the city and the Storm's ownership group and CEO Karen Bryant. The parties will also involve Hansen, who expressed his support for the team in an interview Friday on KJR.

"We're completely supportive of the Storm," Hansen said. "I love the management. I love what they're trying to do. I think it's great for women's athletics. It's a great community organization. I have nothing but the best to say about them."

For its part, the Storm organization has supported the possible return of the Sonics, with whom the team was affiliated before its 2008 sale to Force 10 Hoops and subsequent move by the Sonics to Oklahoma City.

"We would welcome the NBA back to Seattle. We've always said that and will continue to say that."
- Brummel

"I think we would welcome the NBA back to Seattle," said Brummel. "We've always said that and will continue to say that. I think Seattle's a great sports city and having the NBA back here would be great. There are a lot of interesting things that we can leverage together, and now a couple of years after the NBA has left, we've learned some things as well, so it could be a great partnership."

There's a personal dimension for members of the organization like Brummel, who grew up pulling for the New York Knicks' championship teams of the 1970s in nearby Connecticut. Before women's professional basketball was a reality, players like Willis Reed, Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe helped introduce Brummel to the sport she would go on to play in college.

"I'd love to have an NBA team back here," she said. "I love basketball, so I'm happy to watch college, I'm happy to watch sixth grade, I'm happy to watch the NBA. I think more basketball in this city of Seattle is a great thing."

As this process plays out, the Storm encourages fans to stay patient as management works with the city to explore the possible options. Whatever results should work to the Storm's benefit.

"We're in active discussions," Brummel concluded. "We're looking to do the right thing for our fans and our business. We're excited to hear more about what Chris' plans are and excited to continue to work with the city to figure out what the best long-term place will be for the Storm to continue to thrive and grow."

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