King County Council approved an amended proposal from investor Chris Hansen by a 6-3 vote to build a NBA/NHL arena in the SoDo district. The Storm was included in one amendment, the county asking the city and Hansen to find a favorable and transferable lease, according to The Associated Press.
The Storm receives about a $300,000 yearly subsidy from the city, negotiated in 2009 after the Sonics were sold to Oklahoma businessmen in 2008. The WNBA team is in the midst of a 10-year lease with the city and an economical transfer to the new arena is a sticking point in negotiations between Hansen and the city, according to The Associated Press.
In an interview with Karen Bryant when Hansen’s proposal was originally announced, the Storm CEO and president stated that while KeyArena has worked for the team, a new arena would help the Storm’s future. As various Sonics owners found, there are limits on rooms to hold sponsor functions and improve suites.
The Storm owners stated, however, that they weren’t involved in original talks about the arena or KeyArena’s future. Hansen would like to renovate the facility into a smaller venue fit for concerts, which could hinder basketball capacity which is at 17,072 overall and 9,686 for Storm games. The team curtains off the upper-bowl for most games, removing for popular games and the postseason. When the Storm won the 2004 championship, it had a true sellout (17,072) for two WNBA Finals home games.
The ownership group has since met with Hansen, who is a supporter of the WNBA team.
“We’re in active discussions,” Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel said on the team’s website. Force 10, the official name of the Storm’s ownership group, met with Hansen for the first time earlier this month. “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.”
The Storm has strong advocates on the Seattle City Council in members Jean Godden and Bruce Harrell, whose daughter plays basketball at Cleveland High School.
“Let’s not slide into the old ways of giving lip service to women’s enterprises and women athletes,” Godden wrote in an opinion piece for The Seattle Times. “There needs to be real consideration given to securing a long-term, financially viable home for the Storm.”
On the court, the Storm (9-10) will return to WNBA play on Aug. 16 against Phoenix at KeyArena. The team resumes practice Wednesday evening but All-Stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson won’t join the Storm until the completion of the Olympic Games in London.
Bird, starting point guard for USA Basketball, has helped lead the Americans to a 2-0 start in pool play. After a competitive opening match against Croatia, the Americans defeated Angola 90-38. The women play Turkey at 2:15 p.m. (PST) on Wednesday.
“For us, it’s really about how we play,” Bird told reporters after the game Monday. She finished with five assists. “We’re not really worried about the competition. Obviously we talk about them and prepare, but it’s more about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, no matter what the score is. We can really use games like this to get to know each other better and to learn because the training time has been limited.”
Jackson, starting center for the Aussies, fouled out of 74-70 overtime loss to France on Monday. It was Australia’s first loss in Olympic competition that wasn’t against Team USA since 1996.
Former Storm reserve Belinda Snell banked a three-pointer from beyond halfcourt to send the game into overtime. But without Jackson and C Liz Cambage (Tulsa Shock) in the game for extra play, the Opals were without go-to scoring options. The Aussies also committed turnovers and missed open looks that led to the loss.
“Hey lovlies, thanks 4 the (love),” she posted on her Twitter account. “We r feeling positive and ready for the next 1! What will b will b, but we leaving it all out there.#noregrets”
The Opals play Brazil at 6:30 a.m. (PST) on Wednesday. All Olympic basketball games can be seen on NBC Basketball Channel or online through the network.