Column: Muckleshoot Tribe interested in the Sonics

"Sonics owner Clay Bennett says he's "out of ideas." Fortunately, that's a state of being completely foreign to Bob Santos.

The 73-year-old has spent a lifetime plotting the future of Seattle's International District. Now retired, with "nothing much to do," Santos was driving to Auburn one day when he had a new inspiration. "I was going by the Emerald Downs horse track, with those huge parking lots and all that unused land," Santos recalls. "And I thought: 'Why not here?' "

As it happens, Santos was headed to watch a football game with some friends in the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. The same tribe that owns about 200 acres under and around Emerald Downs.

Santos pitched his idea to the tribe: Why not build a new arena for the Sonics? The tribe has the land. It has a casino full of money. It runs a summer-concert venue, the White River amphitheater, and could use that operation to book concerts for an arena in the winter."

Last week, the tribal council asked its staff to pursue the idea, including putting together a financing plan that would likely propose a sharing of costs among the Sonics, the tribe and the state.

It's far from a done deal. The tribe's chairwoman, Charlotte Williams, confirmed the tribe is interested but cautioned, "The matter has not progressed to the point where any serious discussions have taken place.""

Get the Story:
Danny Westneat: Could tribe save the Sonics? (The Seattle Times 6/3)

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