NBA Basketball Just Might Return to Seattle

02.13.2012 | Kari Day

Ever since the Seattle Sonics left for Oklahoma City four seasons ago, the community has held hope that someday we might have another NBA team. As it turns out, we might actually be close to having a team in town as soon as next fall. The city of Seattle’s mayor’s office has quietly been in discussion with Christopher Hansen, a San Francisco-based hedge fund manager (and Seattle native) to help finance a new arena to attract an NBA team. According to news reports, discussions have been going on for almost a year.

A year?! What’s interesting to me is that this is the first time the general public has heard about this. There haven’t been any news conferences or press releases talking about the what ifs but instead the powers that be have been diligently working in the background to try and make this happen before setting any expectations.  Instead of spending their time answering questions they don’t have answers to, they focused on putting a deal together to alleviate some of the message spin. The mayor’s office has done an outstanding job of managing the messaging on this for almost a year now, and for this they deserve some kudos.

Nothing would steam Seattle’s milk more than the prospect of publicly financed stadiums and subsidized pro-sports teams, so it can’t be easy to manage expectations and messaging for such a high profile, high-risk initiative.

As PR practitioners it’s our job to think about the before, during, and after; to position the message just so; and to deftly manage the feedback. Imagine the counterproductive buzz that would have pushed these sensitive NBA talks off course had word gotten out sooner. Not good. Instead, questions are answered before they’re asked, strategic partners feel valued and the message has momentum.

Well played.


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