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.

This special episode of Seattle Growth Podcast brings you more information about the proposed ordinance that can change the way public spaces are used in neighborhoods throughout Seattle. Seattle City Council is considering a proposal that will set rules dictating the city’s response to unsanctioned encampments on public property. A recent draft can be found here

The proposal has made headlines, but Seattle Growth Podcast is the first to bring you in-depth interviews from multiple perspectives closest to issue. City Councilmember Rob Johnson discusses the proposal and why he co-sponsored it. City Councilmember Tim Burgess discusses why he is opposed to the proposal and what he believes should be done instead.

For a perspective outside of government, the episode also includes an interview with the CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association: Jon Scholes.

For those of you who would like to have your voice heard on either side of this issue, you may find the City Councilmembers’ contact information below:

Lisa Herbold
Bruce Harrell
Kshama Sawant
Rob Johnson
Debora Juarez
Mike O’Brien
Sally Bagshaw
Tim Burgess
Lorena Gonzales

You may contact all city council members in a single email using council@seattle.gov


Seattle Growth Podcast Live Announcement

Also, be sure to join UW Foster professor Jeff Shulman, who hosts Seattle Growth Podcast, for Seattle Growth Podcast Live on October 17th.

Register Now

Shulman will moderate a distinguished panel of community leaders in a discussion about how to address the growth-related challenges and opportunities that will shape Seattle’s future. The panel includes:

John Connors John Creighton Maggie Walker
Ignition Partners Port of Seattle Commissioner Civic Leader

The panel discussion will be preceded by a networking opportunity during a reception with appetizers and a cash bar.

Where: Impact Hub Seattle. See Location and Parking information.

When: Monday, October 17th, 6pm to 8pm

Register Now

The event is sponsored by

UW Foster Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship and Impact Hub Seattle 


What does Seattle’s growth mean for the future of the city’s transportation network? This epsiode will look at land transportation through an in-depth interview with the Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation, Scott Kubly. He will share details about the projects underway and what he sees for the future of how Seattle residents will move about the city. The episode also features an interview with the editor-in-chief of the Seattle Transit Blog, Martin Duke.

The episode also looks at air transportation through an in-depth interview with Port of Seattle commissioner John Creighton. He will share the fascinating history and future of the Port of Seattle.

This episode will give you unique insight into the far reaching impact of how growth affects the city’s transportation network and what the future holds for Seattle mobility.

With appearances by:
Brian Bonlender, Director of the Washington State Dept. of Commerce
Mark Plunkett, Seattle Aquarium Conservation Coordinator
Nicole Bell, Executive Director of Cambia Grove
Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Councilmember
Harold Scoggins, Chief of Seattle Fire Department
Geoff Austin, Interim Executive Director of UW Medical Center
Dr. Susan Stern
Steve Smith
Leslie Basil
Dan Morgan

A teacher, a parent, and the associate superintendent at Seattle Public Schools discuss school crowding and how schools adapt to a growing population. Hear from in-depth interviews with Kirk Wohlers, Liz MacLennan, and Dr. Flip Herndon about Seattle’s growth and the impact on its public schools.

You will learn specifics about the growth in the student population, how Seattle Public Schools forecasts the number of students, and the process by which it expands capacity. You will hear a surprising way in which PTSAs have shifted their priorities. Through this episode, you will have a better understanding of the challenges facing the city’s public schools and what can be done about these challenges.

How are Seattle’s hospitals affected by the city’s growth? Today’s episode features an in-depth interview with Dr. Susan Stern who is the head of the Division of Emergency Medicine overseeing two of Seattle’s premier emergency departments: Harborview and UW Medical Center.

You will hear the shocking way in which growth is impacting Suzanna, a nurse in an orthopedics department at a Seattle hospital. You will also hear from the executive director of Harborview Medical Center, Paul Hayes, and the interim executive director of UW Medical Center, Geoff Austin.

This episode will give you a better understanding of capacity issues in our region’s hospitals and the resource needs of our region’s hospitals in the changing city.

How are emergency services affected by Seattle’s growth? Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins describes how Seattle’s increasing density affects service calls and deployment of personnel and resources. Chief Operating Officer of the Seattle Police Department, Brian Maxey, shares how Seattle’s economic and population growth affects emergency response.

Through these in-depth interviews, you will get an inside look at how the city’s first responders think about growth and adapt to Seattle’s changes.

With an appearance by Ben Noble, Director of Seattle’s City Budget Office (0:00)