For one day at least, it was like the Sonics had never left.
An estimated crowd of 6,000 turned out for a rally Thursday in Seattle’s downtown Occidental Park to show their support for building a new arena in the city and getting another Sonics NBA team.
And that was the goal of arena investor Chris Hansen, who organized Thursday’s rally to encourage supporters of a new arena to make their voices heard.
From the turnout in Occidental Park, the message was clear: The Sonics might have left, but their soul still remains --waiting to be reborn in the form of a new NBA team.
The legends of the past were front and center once again -- Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, Slick Watts and Detlef Schrempf -- in front of a sea of green and gold. All were hoping local leaders would take notice.
Hansen is scheduled to attend city and county budget committee meetings next week. But Thursday, he was at the center of it all, orchestrating a scene that many desperately needed.
After all, the last time a Sonics crowd was this big was in front of the federal courthouse four years ago, before their team was bought and removed to Oklahoma City, a team now known as the Thunder.
But no, there`s a lot of hope that a new Sonics team will return.
Meanwhile, the Seattle City Council and King County Council announced that they will host a joint public hearing on the proposed arena on July 19.Hansen, who said he will put $300 million into a $490 million arena to be built in the city's Sodo district, cannot negotiate for an NBA team until the arena plans are approved. The City Council is expected to vote in early August.
The rally took place one day after Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer and Peter and Erik Nordstrom announced their financial support for the arena.