What do Seattle’s children have to gain from a return of NBA basketball to the city?

Episode 5 of the Seattle Growth Podcast, season 2, explores how decisions being made at the civic level regarding a return of the Seattle Supersonics might impact future generations of Seattle youth.

Legendary Sonic Slick Watts discusses how his NBA playing days influenced his contributions to the community, including decades of youth coaching and development that yielded the cultivation of NBA prospects Jason Terry and Jamal Crawford.

Colin Davenport, a youth coach who grew up in Seattle, describes how the Sonics shaped his life.

Pat Dobel, a University of Washington professor and creator of the sports blog “Point of the Game,” shares his experiences in the personal development of collegiate athletes and cautions against expecting too much from the return of the NBA.

Also, tweets from Sonics fans and Seattle Growth Podcast listeners.

How would a return of the Sonics affect your evening commute? With two arena locations under city consideration, this episode brings you the scoop on how each of them would affect you.

In this episode, you will hear:

  1. 3-time NBA All-Star Detlef Schrempf discusses his time playing at Seattle’s Key Arena.
  2. Scott Kubly, Director of Seattle Department of Transportation, discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the transportation network serving each location.
  3. Martin Duke, Editor at Seattle Transit Blog, describes the current and future state of transit serving the two locations.

The SoDo arena group was a street vacation away from being ready to invite the NBA to a modern Seattle arena, but the Port of Seattle has been an outspoken opponent. Find out exactly what the Port opposes and get a further understanding of why the Port is concerned about the SoDo arena.

In this episode, you will hear from Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton.

You will also get historical context about the Port of Seattle from former Port CEO Mic Dinsmore, who served in that capacity for 15 years from 1992 to 2007.

The episode concludes with the executive director of the Manufacturing Industrial Council Dave Gering who describes the local maritime industry and how he fears a SODO arena could impact not just the industry, but all residents of Seattle.

The city is in the midst of its decision-making process, and now is the time to become informed about the benefits and challenges associated with potential locations.

A local investment group led by Chris Hansen has a proposal to build an NBA arena in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood. Their proposal has the potential to impact you and life in this city.

You will learn what the SoDo arena group needs from the city to proceed and what they hope a return of the Sonics will mean to Seattle.

In this episode, you can hear:

  1. Pete Nordstrom, co-president of Nordstrom, describes what basketball has meant to him and how his experience as a team owner influences his efforts to bring the Sonics back to Seattle.
  2. Wally Walker, former Sonics player and team executive, shares details of the proposal and what it was like to be a player on the first professional sports team to bring  a championship to Seattle.


Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess talks about City Council’s role in the process of bringing back the Sonics in this bonus episode of Seattle Growth Podcast.

Just today, February 8th, Chris Hansen’s investment group submitted a new proposal for their arena in the Sodo neighborhood. The group’s original request for the vacation of a block of Occidental was turned down by City Council. This new proposal promises 100% private funding, a joint scheduling agreement, and the condition that the vacation will be valid only if a team is secured.

Prior to this proposal submitted today, I had the opportunity to sit down with City Councilmember Tim Burgess. He gave insight into how City Council will approach the process of paving way for an NBA-ready arena.


Why should you care about a potential return of the Sonics? Because the story is more complex than you might imagine. Yes, there is considerable enthusiasm for bringing them back. But their return requires addressing some tough questions. Will your tax dollars go toward subsidizing an NBA-ready arena? Where would an arena go? How would an arena affect the surrounding real estate, jobs, traffic, and other aspects of life in the city? How can the positive effects of an NBA franchise be maximized?

This season of Seattle Growth Podcast will explore these issues so you can be better informed about how a return of the Sonics would affect you and your neighbors. With this knowledge, you can have your voice be heard on the issue while there are decisions being made.

To give context to the potential return, it is important to understand some of the history of the Sonics. In this episode, you can hear:

1) Hall of Fame Sonics player and coach Lenny Wilkens shares why he wants the NBA to return to Seattle and what it was like to deliver the city its first professional sports championship.

2) Craig Kinzer opens up about his experience as a member of the Sonics ownership group that sold the team to Clay Bennett’s Oklahoma City investment group.

3) Paul Lawrence explains what can be learned from his experience as the city’s lead attorney in its trial attempting to force Clay Bennett to fulfill the obligations of the Sonics’ lease in Key Arena.

Also appearing in this episode are City Councilmember Tim Burgess, Pete Nordstrom, Wally Walker and Steve Hussey.

After attracting tens of thousands of listens and earning critical acclaim in 2016, the Seattle Growth Podcast, hosted by UW Foster School professor Jeff Shulman, is back in 2017 with a second season.

In season two, the podcast will explore how a return of the NBA franchise Seattle Supersonics would impact life in Seattle. As the city grows at a clip not seen since the Gold Rush, efforts to return the Sonics their original home are picking up steam. Whether or not you are a basketball fan, you will gain perspective on how the Sonics would affect real estate, community, traffic, jobs, taxes, and more.

The Seattle Growth Podcast: Season 2 will feature in-depth interviews with former Sonics players, owners, and team executives as well as residents, business leaders, academic experts, and city leaders.

It is time for us to decide as a people : what do we want for this city as it undergoes a transformation? In today’s episode you are going to hear what the highest leadership at the city and state levels want. You will hear an in-depth interview with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. You will also hear an in-depth interview with a member of Governor Jay Inslee’s executive cabinet, Brian Bonlender.


You will also hear appearances by

Maggie Walker, Friends of Waterfront Seattle

Greg Smith, CEO of Urban Visions;

Jane Richlovsky, partner in Good Arts Building;

Benjamin Zuercher, founder of StuffMapper;

Ali Ghambari, owner of Cherry Street Coffee House;

Tasha Meyer, student;

Bojie Mageo, cofounder of Swurveys;

Mikaela Kiner, CEO of uniquely HR;

Ty Sanders

Listen to the first ever taping of Seattle Growth Podcast before a live audience at the Impact Hub in Seattle. University of Washington’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship organized the event on October 17th, 2016.


Host Jeff Shulman moderated a panel of three individuals who have made immeasurable contributions to Seattle and will play a major role in its future: Maggie Walker, John Connors, and John Creighton


Maggie Walker is well known in Seattle as a philanthropist and civic leader. Walker was a founding member of Social Venture Partners and of the Washington Women’s Foundation. She is Chair and Board President of Global Partnerships. She is Vice Chair of the National Audobon Society Board of Directors. She is a member of the UW Foundation Board of Directors and the Seattle Art Museum Board of Trustees where she previously served as President. She is a board member of Friends of Waterfront Seattle. She is an advisory board member for the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, the Evans School of Public Policy, and the College of Arts & Sciences.

Walker previously served as chair of The Bullitt Foundation’s Board of Trustees, co-chair of the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) Board of Trustees, chair of the Washington Women’s Foundation (founding member and first Chair) and was the first vice-chair of The Seattle Foundation Board of Trustees.

John Connors is a managing partner at Ignition Partners, an early stage, business software venture capital firm. Connors was named to the 2013 Forbes Midas List, a ranking of the world’s top venture capital investors, and to Business Insider’s 2013 list of top enterprise technology VCs. Connors joined Ignition in 2005 after a distinguished career as a software-industry executive.

Connors spent sixteen years at Microsoft in several high-level, strategic roles. From January 2000 to April 2005 he was senior vice president of finance and administration, as well as the company’s chief financial officer. Connors is a member of the board of directors of Nike (NKE), Splunk (SPLK), FiREapps, DataSphere, Motif Investing, Chef, Azuqua, Tempered Networks, and Icertis.

John Creighton has served on the Port of Seattle Commission since 2006. He came to the commission with broad experience as a lawyer specializing on complex international transactions in the port cities of Singapore, Helsinki and Istanbul prior to returning home to Seattle. Creighton currently has a solo practice focused on business law and public policy.

As a commissioner, Creighton has focused on keeping the Port strong as a jobs creation engine while increasing the agency’s commitment to the environment and making it a more accountable, socially responsible public agency.

Creighton grew up on the Eastside and graduated from Interlake High School in Bellevue. He earned a B.A. and M.A. from Johns Hopkins University, a J.D. from Columbia University and a Certificate of Administration from the University of Washington Foster School of Business.

Are Seattle’s public utilities prepared for the influx of people? Hear from Ray Hoffman, former Director of Seattle Public Utilities, which oversees water, sewage, and solid waste management. In an in-depth interview, he shares which utilities are ready to expand with demand and which utilities concern him.

Hear from Larry Weis, CEO of Seattle City Light, share the impact of new development on electricity usage. He also shares what changes have been made in reaction to the population growth and his vision for the future.


Through this episode you will have a better understanding of how growth impacts the public utilities and the scalability of these services.