It was an arena proposal that seemed like a slam dunk on Thursday, and now looks as sure as a first-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets – a couple City Council members mockingly wagging their fingers like Dikembe Mutombo, as if to say “Not so fast.”

 

I understand their concerns. Traffic and parking, and ultimately, while Christopher Hansen is promising 290 million dollars in private financing, the reason this proposal might not pass is the up-front asking price. The city and county would provide 200 million dollars from bond sales that would be paid back through admission, parking, and property taxes from the arena itself.

 

As much as the proposal promises the city and county will get paid back, those council members are skeptical. They base their uncertainty on broken promises from KeyArena, where revenues fell short of construction costs.

 

As sports fans, we’ll never understand their negativity. But they’ll never understand our passion.

 

The way I see it, council members who oppose this plan are putting aside civic pride – not to mention the bonafide boost to the area in the forms of job creation and economic vitality – because of “what ifs:”  What if we don’t get our money back? What if the franchises left town?

 

Those council members are putting hypotheticals in front of what’s been advertised by the mayor and county executive as a sure thing.

 

The skeptical council members refuse to account for the anguish we felt when the Sonics were ripped away. They’re once again putting politics above passion. And while they call themselves practical. I call them selfish.

 

When the city turned its back on KeyArena, it also turned its back on the businesses on Lower Queen Anne. The Seattle City Council now has an opportunity to redeem itself with one of the best deals a city has ever been offered in terms of a sports complex. And I beg them to do what’s right: Restore the Sonics to Seattle. Believe in a promise by man – Hansen - who seems to be doing all this for our city and not for himself.

 

That being said, given the historical failures of our local politicians to get things done, I also think we need a backup plan.

 

If Hansen can secure a franchise to get the ball rolling, we need 200 million dollars in case our city council doesn’t come through.

 

I agree with Art Thiel from SportsPress Northwest, who said Steve Ballmer *could* be the missing piece. Ballmer is the most practical option – and his history of leading a last-ditch effort to save the Sonics in 2008 would seem to indicate he could be interested in making sure this thing works if the city council rejects the current proposal.

 

Local names like Paul Allen, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos are also options – but as an idealist and a dreamer, I have an even crazier idea that likely won’t happen.

 

Howard Schultz led a group of 58 investors that bought the Sonics in 2001 for 200 million dollars. We need 200 million dollars now.  

 

No one wants Schultz investing in a team – but this time he’d be investing in an arena. The man who never apologized for selling the Sonics to Clay Bennett could finally save face for abandoning ship, by helping provide a “Plan B.” If Schultz actively tried to help, it would bring the whole story full circle. It would bring this entire nightmare to an end with a perfect symmetry -  the original villain righting a wrong and aiding the cause.

 

In fact, I said I’d never forgive David Stern and I’d never forgive Howard Schultz. I’ll still never forgive Stern. But in terms of Schultz, my forgiveness comes with a price tag of 200 million dollars. After all, Howard, you’ll still get your money back.