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Seattle was hurting for sports, but things are looking sunny

Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks heads off the field

Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Russell Wilson? Nope, the Seattle Seahawks didn’t unearth him on Indeed.com.

Not to betray franchise secrets, mind you.

But it’s hardly a secret that Wilson, quarterback extraordinaire for the Seahawks, along with, say, hot latte with extra foam, are pretty much the stuff in the city these days, rain, shine or members of the local American Postal Workers Union phoning it in with the blue flu. 

Amazon Prime delivery to the rescue?

Anyway, now that we can officially confirm that Wilson’s resume wasn’t actually plucked from a job site, (nice to scoop CNN for, like, once), one might ask (go ahead now): where are sports headed in Seattle? After all, despite his heaping bag of tricks and contortions, even Wilson can’t scramble his way out of the grasp of father time. Heck, even hot lattes – foam or not — cool off.

Have to think about that one? Well, there’s no rush. We don’t do clocks here. Not that time isn’t ticking away.

Just saying, in my own little moderately passive-aggressive way.

And nothing says it louder — or commands more attention — than the almighty dollar. With that in mind, it seems that things are percolating on the ice on Seattle’s sports front. Yes; things can percolate on ice (see… errrr…..umm….Wikipedia). In February, Arena Digest, reported that plans were coalescing for a $850 million Seattle Center Arena project, which will pave the way to, among other things, a new Seattle National Hockey League expansion team.  Play at the arena’s expected to kick off in 2021.

At least one stipulation: Sonicsrising.com, said project developer Oak View Group was required to be responsible for all costs and cost overruns during construction and operation of the new area.

Meantime, work on the project, that will include digging 15 feet for additional room and modern facilities, is underway at KeyArena. According to Wikipedia, the Seattle Center Arena – or KeyArena — is a temporarily-defunct multi-purpose arena in Seattle. It’s located north of downtown. The finished product’s based on NBA and NHL standards.

For fans of personal space (keep your distance, now), according to estimates, the facility will total 800,000 square feet, the site noted.

So, go ahead: stretch your legs, creaky knees and all.

If Seattle fans are enthusiastic about the arena, Tod Leiweke, NHL Seattle CEO and president, was downright agog. “It’s been incredible. It was a complicated matrix of inter-related agreements, but it all got done,” according to NHL.com. The site also noted that in addition to NHL hockey, the facility will host the Seattle Storm (WNBA), Seattle University basketball and – hopefully before long – the return of the NBA.

Uh, yeah. About that. It’s an initiative that appears, at best, to be a work in progress. Last year, ESPN.com, stated that, at the very least, for the time being, the city wasn’t exactly on the precipice of rolling out the red carpet for an NBA team.

In fact, the site reported that in a meeting with NBA officials, some prospective ownership groups were informed that expansion –at the soonest — might not be on the horizon until 2025. According to officials, that’s when a new TV deal can be hammered out. 

Note to diehards: line forms to the left.

Sonics forward Kevin Durant battles Celtics guard Ray Allen

Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

But this isn’t just a line. ESPN indicated that beyond expansion, there’s always at least a slight possibility that a current NBA franchise could be relocated to Seattle. 

Whichever way that seemingly fluid scenario unfolds, the city of Seattle and its fans still are chafed a decade after the Sonics bolted for Oklahoma City. 

You know: A city scorned and all that jazz. Cha-cha-cha.

Kevin Durant feels for the fans and the city. Durant, of course, played for the Sonics in Seattle before the franchise headed to Oklahoma City. He recently signed as a free agent with the Brooklyn Nets. “It was very devastating how we up and left in the middle of the night,” Durant said. “I know those fans have been yearning for basketball for a long, long time,” reported ESPN.com.

Last year, fans and the city got a little reminder of what they’ve been missing when Seattle hosted its first NBA game since the Sonics departed following the 2007-2008 season, according to Reuters.com. It at least raised the hopes of Sonics fan who have a hearty appetite for the NBA’s return to the city, the site noted.

So, what’s the hang-up in Seattle? Money? Nope, the city has it, according to ESPN.com. Fans? Nada. There’s support aplenty. On top of that, two competing groups were amenable to financing arenas – without public money. However, the Sonics hightailed it out of town due to a lack of a suitable arena, the site reported.

Speaking of the arena, ESPN said that Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan noted: “(KeyArena) is being constructed purposely to accommodate hockey, basketball and concerts. I’ve spoken to (NBA commissioner) Adam [Silver] and communicated to him that we’re interested.”

NBA franchise returning to Seattle or not, one team there now, the Mariners, is beginning to sow its oats.

Which actually is somewhat ironic, considering the squad was presumed to be in rebuilding mode, as reported by ESPN.com, “You’re always trying to get better,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais. “I know I am. Continuous improvement is one of the things we’ve talked about.”

The Mariners reloaded on offense with an eye on having their way with pitching, noted ESPN. When hitters received advance reports prior to games in the past, they reflected the velocity range of pitchers they’d face as well as movements patterns. However, it’s a different ballgame this season: for one thing, to dispense deeper information, a pair of analysts were added to the clubhouse by the team. The upshot? Instead of just what pitchers throw, but what they throw that gets tattooed, the site reported. 

“It’s more sophisticated, but it’s actually simpler if that makes any sense,” says Mitch Haniger, a voracious consumer of analytics. “You’re getting more information, but they’re telling you exactly where to focus to do damage,” ESPN stated. 

Mitch Haniger of the Seattle Mariners takes the field

Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Mariners also are making hay at the plate, offering at only 23.7 percent of pitches beyond the strike zone, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. It’s the fifth-lowest rate in the big leagues.

Commanding particular attention was Mariners’ general manager Jerry Dipoto’s offseason pick up of 27-year-old Yusei Kikuchi, an international free agent, to a four year $56 million deal, according to Beyondtheboxscore.com.

What’s more, heading into this season, three recent Mariner acquisitions, lefty Justus Sheffield (42), outfielder Jarred Kelenic (55) and right-hander Justin Dunn (89) made MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects, reported MLB.com.

But it’s not all about baseball, what with a new sheriff in town, vying for the attention of the city and fans. With three-on-three basketball making its Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, Force 10 Management, owners of the Seattle Storm, recently announced the signing of its lineup for the maiden independently owned professional women’s 3×3 basketball team in the U.S., it was reported earlier this month by the Seattle Times.

Knock hardcourt fans over with a 2×4, huh?

Cierra Burdick, Alexis Peterson, Linnae Harper and Megan Huff were inked to the Force 3×3 roster. The debut date’s still unknown, the site stated.

The 3×3 games, of course, are played on a half-court. Teams combat one another to ring up 21 points or prior to time expiring, said the Seattle Times. Action takes place with a 12-second shot clock and lasts 10 minutes. Shots outside the arc are good for two rather than three points. Inside shots count for one.

What do you know about that? After all, in Seattle, for many, sports are number one.

Well, that and a hot latte. With extra foam.

Get it while it’s hot.

Seattle fans are just hoping for the same for their favorite team.

Whomever it might be.