Will the Sonics’ Return Only Extend KeyArena’s Pain?

On Monday, a story by David Aldridge on NBA.com indicated an agreement between Chris Hansen’s wealthy investment group and the City of Seattle was in the works that would tab $20 million of the would-be Sonics buyers’ money for upgrades to KeyArena this summer - presumably setting the stage for two seasons of NBA basketball at the arena while Hansen’s arena is constructed (assuming, of course, that the purchase of the Sacramento Kings goes through).

It goes without saying that what Hansen and his collected group of rich guys want to do with their money is completely up to them. But it does raise the question: After years of Seattleites staring at KeyArena in a collective “what-do-we-do-with-it-now?”, what really are we going to do with an even fancier arena when, under the best case scenario, its 2016 and the stadium is once again without an anchor NBA team?

What shape will KeyArena be left in after this two-year period, and will it be better suited to begin its second stint of post-NBA life? Surely the Seattle Storm would benefit from basketball-related upgrades, but if KeyArena’s ultimate fate is as a theater-style venue or exhibition center, will we be looking at a scenario two years from now where we’re undoing the upgrades Hansen and Co. are apparently footing the bill for?

While Aaron Pickus, a spokesperson for Mayor McGinn’s office, is adamant that he has no idea where the $20 million figure in Aldridge’s story comes from, he does say “We’re still working on the agreements,” and that the cash - whatever the actual total may be - will go toward basketball-related improvements designed to bring KeyArena “more in line with NBA expectations,” as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times has put it. Declining to go into specifics, Pickus says only that the capital investments will go toward things like modernizing the scoreboard system at the arena.

We have calls out to Seattle Center and others to collect their thoughts.

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