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Originally published January 22, 2013 at 4:28 PM | Page modified January 22, 2013 at 8:17 PM

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Editorial: Sonics return, Sodo arena far from a done deal

Lots of questions remain to be answered before the return of professional basketball to Seattle can reasonably be assumed.

Seattle Times Editorial

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Corrected version

UNDERSTANDABLE excitement for the return of NBA basketball to Seattle, and nostalgia for Sonics’ green and gold, are no substitute for rigorous review of the public’s stake in a complex deal.

Reports of the purchase of the Sacramento Kings by a vague consortium headed by Chris Hansen appear to be solid, for now. Numerous next steps follow, including scrutiny and approval of the sale by the National Basketball Association Board of Governors.

Sacramento fans and community leaders are not pleased, and might respond with a counteroffer or lawsuit. After the Sonics’ abrupt departure in 2008, Seattle fans know how that kind of civic snub feels.

New ownership for an NBA franchise is one thing, but now they need a place to play. The $490 million arena proposed for south of downtown faces lots of hurdles — or at least unanswered questions.

Seattle City Council members Tim Burgess and Sally Clark committed to a thorough environmental impact analysis of the arena, including alternative sites. Deliver it.

Basic questions are in play. Traffic issues and their impact on the Port of Seattle and the surrounding industrial area go to the heart of the city’s economic health.

Taxpayers need to be protected from the risks of a billion-dollar bet on the purchase of a basketball team and the construction of a third major sports complex.

Protect the public treasury, and make that point a priority.

The Sonics fled town because of the alleged inadequacies of KeyArena. Now it would be a temporary home for a new team.

Who will protect the schedules of local teams and events planned for that space?

Nothing about the supposed return of an NBA team is a done deal. The team may or may not leave Sacramento. Owner finances must be vetted. The arena site is far from settled. KeyArena improvements are in play.

Slip on the old jersey, but hold off on the high fives and fist bumps.

Information in this article, originally published Jan. 22, 2013 at 4 p.m., was corrected at 8:13 p.m. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Seattle City Council member Sally Bagshaw had committed to a thorough environmental impact analysis. It was Councilmember Sally Clark.

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