Steve Ballmer: NBA in Seattle not likely to happen any time soon
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Steve Ballmer: NBA in Seattle not likely to happen any time soon

Steve Ballmer

We’re approaching a decade without professional basketball in Seattle. Despite stellar fan support, the SuperSonics left the city for Oklahoma City in 2008, and the fans are far from over the devastation of losing their favorite team.

There have been strong efforts to bring the NBA back to the Emerald City, but they’ve all come up short so far. Just two months ago, the Seattle City Council voted against giving up a piece of land that was pivotal to a plan to build a new arena. The vote was close, 5-4.

The project that took a hit from the vote belongs to entrepreneur Chris Hansen. He had partnered with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, but Steve eventually decided to buy the Los Angeles Clippers.

Ballmer is familiar with the Seattle market and its fans. Microsoft, where Ballmer worked from 2000 to 2014, has its corporate office located in Redmond, Washington, bordering Seattle.

When asked about Seattle’s chances of landing a franchise in relocation or from expansion in the near future, Ballmer provided a rather gloomy forecast at the Geek Wire Sports Technology Summit at Safeco Field.

From Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times:

[Ballmer] doesn’t see Seattle landing an NBA franchise “within the next year or two years” to facilitate public funding for an arena.

“It’s just not likely to happen,” Ballmer told those attending the conference. “There has been no discussion about expansion since I have been involved with the league. So, I don’t think that will happen. The league has really moved to favor teams staying in their current markets. You’d have to find a team that’s at the end of their (arena) lease, where it looks hard to build an arena and where they’ve tried really hard to build an arena.

“And you’d have to show that an arena can get built in Seattle,” he added. “Because unlike most other cities that build an arena before they have a team, I don’t think an arena is going to get built here before a team comes here unless it gets done in the context of hockey.”

Before any rumors could arise about the Clippers possibly making the move up the coast to Seattle, Ballmer shut the idea down.

“The Clippers are not going anywhere — ever,” he said. “I will die owning the L.A. Clippers.”

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