SEATTLE — Within three years, former Seattle SuperSonics guard Gary Payton believes the NBA will be returning to the city where he became a star.
Payton raised the “12th Man” flag at Qwest Field on Sunday before the NFL game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. Payton said there has been talk among former players to revive a campaign to renovate Key Arena and to land a new team in Seattle.
“I think before 2011 a team will be here,” Payton said. “A lot of things and speculation … a lot of teams that want to move, so I think Seattle’s got a good shot at it.”
The Sonics moved to Oklahoma City over the summer and became the Thunder after principal club owner Clay Bennett agreed to pay $45 million to buy out the remaining two years of a lease at the arena and NBA commissioner David Stern said the league would consider bringing a team to Seattle once a new building or an overhaul of Key Arena is completed.
Payton said he recently spoke with James Donaldson, a former Sonics player who plans to run for City Council in 2009, and hopes to develop a strong player support group before going to the business community for support.
“We always want to talk to a lot of business people who got a lot of funds and money we can get involved with, so it’s going slow,” Payton said. “A lot of players are trying to get something going and hopefully we can get it done.”