Seattle's NBA fans jilted again? Blazers won't play exhibition here after all
NBA team will play at Memorial Coliseum in Portland, not KeyArena on Oct. 14
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle basketball fans will have to wait a little longer for the NBA to return to the Emerald City.
The Portland Trail Blazers have decided not to stage an exhibition against the Phoenix Suns at KeyArena on Oct. 14, announcing Wednesday that the preseason game will be held at Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
"The game [in Seattle] was never an absolute definite go," president Larry Miller said. "We were looking into it, checking into and thinking that it was going to work out, but at the same time we were looking at some other options for that game."
The Blazers, who celebrate their 40th anniversary this season, haven't played at the Coliseum since 1995.
In an interview last month, Tod Leiweke, CEO of Vulcan Sports & Entertainment, which oversees the Blazers, Seahawks and Sounders FC, said the Blazers wanted to play in Seattle because it made good business sense.
"This isn't designed to be some major statement," he said. "Those who are reading into that, they're just not reading it properly. I think relative to Portland, ownership has fought hard to make Portland work.
"There are lots of people in Seattle who still love the NBA and want to follow a team. It's only logical."
Reaction to the game was mixed when the news broke last month, but Miller said it didn't affect the team's decision.
"We didn't think that it was too soon to play there," he said. "We got a lot of positive feedback as well as some negative feedback and we just felt like the timing would have been OK and the situation would have been good."
Leiweke said the fiscal constraints of operating in a small market forced the Blazers to expand marketing in the Northwest. According to consulting firm ProAdvance, Portland is the 23rd largest media market in the nation and Seattle ranks 13th.
After the Sonics left for Oklahoma City, the Blazers received permission from the NBA to broadcast in the Seattle area and began televising games on Comcast Sports Net last season.
Miller said "it's a strong possibility" Blazer games will be broadcast on the radio in the Seattle area, but the team has yet to finalize a deal with a station. The Blazers will also reconsider playing an exhibition in Seattle in 2010, he said.
"We'll absolutely take another look at that as an option for next year and hopefully things will work out and we'll be able to play up there next year," Miller said. "We want to bring our team up there. We want to play a game up there. We think that market and NBA fans up there deserve to have NBA basketball and we're looking forward to being able to provide that for them."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com
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