Wednesday, July 26

How I See It


Artwork by Rafael Calonzo, Jr (Click for larger pic)

If you’ve followed the arena situation at all in Seattle, you’ve heard two different arguments. One, we need to build it to retain the tradition of NBA basketball in this city. Two, the NBA is blackmailing the city of Seattle and the state of Washington into building them an arena. This second argument has been reinforced, of course, by the recent sale of the team to Oklahoma City investors.

Well, neither side is right. It’s not necessary to carry on the tradition, and it’s not blackmail.

It’s extortion.

Let’s consult a dictionary, shall we?

From Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary:

Extort \Ex*tort"\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Extorted; p. pr. & vb. n. Extorting.] [L. extortus, p. p. of extorquere to twist or wrench out, to extort; ex out + torquere to turn about, twist. See Torsion.] 1. To wrest from an unwilling person by physical force, menace, duress, torture, or any undue or illegal exercise of power or ingenuity; to wrench away (from); to tear away; to wring (from); to exact; as, to extort contributions from the vanquished; to extort confessions of guilt; to extort a promise; to extort payment of a debt.

Now, Pete, you’re saying to yourself, isn’t that a little harsh? After all, are Clay Bennett and his colleagues holding a gun to our head? No, they are not. But a closer examination of the definition reveals that, yes, the city is being extorted. Or do you think that forcing the city to make a decision in 12 months isn’t duress? Or that moving the Sonics to Oklahoma would be anything but “tearing away” the team from its devoted followers?

Believe me, I have struggled with saying this out loud. As someone who writes for a website devoted to a sports team, it’s more than a little hypocritical of me to criticize those who throw their support and money behind the team. In fact, I admire the tenacity with which others have attacked this issue, trying to raise public consciousness of what is obviously a dire situation. And, most importantly, as someone who tied his shoelaces as a kid to mimic the way Gus Williams did, I have more than just a passing interest in Sonics’ basketball. But after having looked at this from every angle, I cannot legitimately justify going ahead with a new arena.

I’m sorry, but when you look at the current situation objectively, you cannot come to any other conclusion. At the present time, basketball fans in Seattle are faced with two options in regard to Clay Bennett:

1. Buy scads of tickets, hoping to convince the city council/state government to build a new arena for Mr. Bennett. End Result: Mr. Bennett becomes wealthier, both via increased sales and the added value to his team due to the new arena.

2. Don’t buy scads of tickets, watch Mr. Bennett move the team to Oklahoma City. End Result: Mr. Bennett no longer has to fly to Seattle and pretend to understand how to pronounce Puyallup.

So, we either give him a sack of money, or he takes our team and leaves town? That isn’t extortion? For crying out loud, if this was The Rockford Files, James Garner wouldn’t even take the case it’s so painfully obvious what is happening.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll repeat it: I don’t begrudge Schultz or Bennett their reasons for making more money, as we all have the same motivations. But did anyone else read the comments of Ray Allen recently? Look, I like Allen, he’s a gentleman and a terrific player; the consumate pro that any fan would love to have on his team. But when he starts complaining about how the Key lacks wireless connnections in the lockerroom, about how the coaches don’t have proper offices ... well, it makes me want to vomit. Let me get this straight – we need to spend $150 million in taxpayer money so Ray Allen can check his email? Are you kidding me?

The argument these stadiums/teams produce economic benefits is provably false, so the only argument can be that we as fans want others to pay for our fun. Sorry, folks, but I won’t play that game, because that makes us no better than Bennett, Schultz, Stern, and all of their ilk – and, in fact, makes us co-conspirators in an extortion scheme. Thanks, but I’ll pass.

60 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Pete,

I haven’t always agreed with your posts, but have to say that this morning I completely agree your comments about the current Sonics situation.

I have been a rabid Sonics fan since long ago when I was a 14 year old pimple-faced kid and watched my heros, DJ, JJ, the Wizard, Paul Silas, Jack Sikma, Lonnie Shelton, Lenny Wilkins, Bob Blackburn, and the rest make it through the playoffs and win the big one. I heard the fat lady sing, and oh it was so sweet, even for a young teenager.

That was my introduction to the NBA, and no one can ever convince me that any sport can be more exciting than pro basketball. The Sonics are now part of me, the part that makes me jump out of my chair to cheer and scream at the TV, the part that makes me stay up too late at night to watch the end of lopsided loss, the part that makes me scan the sports section of the newspaper to check on Luke’s assists, or Ray’s threes, or Rashard’s steals. The players have changed over the years, but something happened to me to make me forever a Sonics fan.

Will I be checking on them after they move to Oklahoma, probably. But, the part of me that makes me crazy about the Sonics and the NBA will forever be crushed. This completely sucks, and this slap in the face has woken me from my 26 year sports stupor.

Extortion? Yes. No way should we, the fans and public of Washington state, pay for a new stadium. Add to Mr. Bennett’s riches? No way. Have empathy for Ray’s complaints about no wireless capabilities? No way. No thanks. I too choose to pass.

nuss said...

I wish I could turn off the comments page now, as I'm guessing the rest of the comments here will be less than complimentary. Thanks for agreeing.

Anonymous said...

Pete,

I can understand your position on tax money being spent to subsidize wealthy people. I guess it all comes down to how important is it to you to have a basketball team in your hometown. Personally, I'd be willing to spend an extra buck or two whenever I went out to dinner to keep the team around. But that's me.

However, for you to intentionally misrepresent Ray Allen's remarks to make a case against improving the arena is total bullshit.

"While Allen said he enjoys playing at KeyArena, he admits parts of the arena are in decline and do not meet standards set by recent NBA venues.

"It's so antiquated in comparison to the rest of the NBA," he said. "The Key has its own personality. It's not some cookie-cutter design. Underneath is a different story. You can't get phone service, wireless Internet, the locker rooms are small, coaches don't have their own offices. When you compare it to a lot of other arenas, those things stand out. It's 2006. You have to update."

He's not complaining about it. He's not saying he must have those amenities, he's merely stating what makes the Key different from other arenas. If innocuous comments like these make you vomit, you must spend an awful lot of time staring at swirling water.

Anonymous said...

As a resident of Oklahoma City and someone who would rather see the Hornets stay and the Sonics remain in Seattle I have to say that you would be foolish not to build a new arena. It may not seem like it if you are blinded by anger over what seems to be a business holding you hostage but lets face it, Seattle will have to build an arena sometime either now or in the future. Might as well do it now and keep your team. We in Oklahoma City would love to have a team and we aren't the cowtown that many in the Seattle press have tried to portray us as but we also know the importance of perception. In Oklahoma City we are working hard to change the perception of many about our fine city and a NBA team would go a long way in doing that but we don't want a storied franchise like the Sonics only because you wouldn't build a stinking arena. BUILD IT and keep your team and your perception intact.

Anonymous said...

Man, when you have sonic supporters who do not want the sonics to stay, or do what it takes to have them stay, then it truly is a uphill battle to keep the sonics in the area.

I am glad that there are sonic fans that do want to keep them ehre.

Nuss said...

Two Words: Vancouver Grizzlies. If anyone in the United States, Canada, or the entire planet thinks less of Vancouver because they don't have the Grizzlies, I'd like to meet them. The argument that a city's worth is derived from the number of sports teams it has is ridiculous. Honestly, is anyone more likely to visit OKC now that they have the Hornets? Think of your last 10 vacations: How important was the number of sports teams in those cities in your decision-making process?

I suppose I could be convinced that Oklahoma City will see an increase in notoriety due to the addition of a basketball team, but I think there is much more to it than that. Oh, and by the way, don't be surprised if the Hornets or Sonics come to you 15-20 years from now, complaining about woeful the Ford Center is, since it lacks hovercraft parking and 3D lockerroom displays.

As to the Allen quote, I don't think I took anything out of context. His statement of keeping up with other facilities is precisely the problem with this whole situation. Step back and look at it: At what point does this stop? Do you not see that you are being played? How many years does spending $150 million on the Key buy us before the Sonics start complaining again? 10 years? 15?

Further, it sounds as though you misrepresented his quotes.

You wrote: "He's not saying he must have those amenities."

Ray Allen said: "It's 2006. You have to update."

Anonymous said...

so the only argument can be that we as fans want others to pay for our fun. Sorry, folks, but I won’t play that game, because that makes us no better than Bennett, Schultz, Stern, and all of their ilk – and, in fact, makes us co-conspirators in an extortion scheme. Thanks, but I’ll pass.

We all end up paying for PBS, Arts programs and failed boondoggle transportation projects such as soundtransit and the Monorail.


I guess everyone is extorting everyone, because we all pay for art programs and other crap that the city and county deems necessary.

Anonymous said...

Two Words: Vancouver Grizzlies. If anyone in the United States, Canada, or the entire planet thinks less of Vancouver because they don't have the Grizzlies, I'd like to meet them

Bad, Bad example, Grizzlies we're in Vancouver for what..10 years? And every year they sucked. They had no history, No great playoff runs,

ryan said...

I don't want to speak for Pete, but just because I don't want the city to spend money building an arena doesn't mean I don't want the Sonics to stay.

Nuss said...

As to the Grizzlies, fine, how about Baltimore? Did you think less of the city of Baltimore when they lost the Colts? Or Charlotte when the lost the Hornets? Or did you think that the fault lay not in the citizens, but in the owners who left town?

nuss said...

As a side issue: Would it kill you guys to give yourself some sort of identification? I'm not asking for social security numbers here, just some sort of made-up name so at least we know who's saying what. You can call yourself Danny Vranes for all I care.

ryan said...

It's funny how conservatives always deride funding PBS and arts projects as though that's the cause of the decline of Western Civilization, yet they have no problem giving public funds to private enterprises, whether it be pro sports teams or - ahem - Halliburton.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a blogger account, Can I enter in a username without having account?

Anonymous said...

It's funny how conservatives always deride funding PBS and arts projects as though that's the cause of the decline of Western Civilization, yet they have no problem giving public funds to private enterprises, whether it be pro sports teams or - ahem - Halliburton.


I have no problems with giving to art programs, PBS, pubically funded Booze hotels, I just wish want funding for Sports as well.

~yearsago

And in Regards to Baltimore, People on the west coast might not think less of the city, but perhaps people from baltimore would.

nuss said...

Yes, you can enter your name without an account. Sorry if that is confusing. Just go to "other" under "choose an identity" and type whatever you like. Just to be clear, I'm not saying I want to track anybody down, it's just confusing who's saying what when everyone is called anonymous.

anonymous #12 said...

"The argument these stadiums/teams produce economic benefits is provably false, so the only argument can be that we as fans want others to pay for our fun."

The study you linked was inconclusive.

Medie said...

Nuss is right. The rich owners feed our addiction, charge us a little more each year for our fix, then go all ape on us every couple of years for some major cash infusion FOR THEIR POCKETS, threatening to cut off our supply if we don't comply. B-ball is the only sport I love, the only one I watch, the only one I know. The Sonics are what keep me alive throughout the long dreary fall/winter/spring in Seattle. But no way I'm gonna help make those rich boys even richer while my kid's school fires more teachers to try to balance the books. F#CK 'EM!

I hate to see them go (I'll cry like a girlie for at least a month) but I'm sick of giving to those that have at the expense of those that have not. I don't judge a city by how many pro teams it has (only a f#cking moron would, IMO) but by whether the kids graduate in acceptable numbers, whether they can get into college, whether I can get around the city faster than a snail, whether I can walk down a street without stepping over an endless array of homeless cast-offs...

All of you who favor a public funded bailout of a bunch of multi-millionaires so the relatively small percentage of us that love basketball can keep our dealer local are twisted. You should take a good hard look at yourselves in the mirror and question just how you became so shallow that you value a sports team over the healthy wellbeing of your community.

stupidjackass said...

see anonymous, it's that easy. Sorry for actually using your name.

biggie said...

"whether I can walk down a street without stepping over an endless array of homeless cast-offs..."

Get a job Grouch!!!!

anonymous #13 said...

"The argument these stadiums/teams produce economic benefits is provably false, so the only argument can be that we as fans want others to pay for our fun."

That's overly simplistic and misleading. The study concludes that the economic benefits don't measurably outweigh the economic costs. So there are in fact economic benefits... just about enough to break even on the costs.

yearsago said...

You should take a good hard look at yourselves in the mirror and question just how you became so shallow that you value a sports team over the healthy wellbeing of your community

Again I come back with the arts programs, Monorail debacle and other things in the communities that certain segments of the community enjoy. I pay for those things because I think it might make the city better.

Nuss said...

Man, I must be looking at a different article than you guys. Here's the first quote from their conclusion:

"1. A pro-facility argument that rests solely on the magnitude of the economic benefits conferred by a new facility is unsustainable. The economic impact literature has ended once and for all the argument that the economic impact of these projects justifies public subsidies for new sports facilities."

and

"5. Noneconomic costs and benefits are conceptually well-understood, but the value of these impacts remain unknown. This paper illustrates that noneconomic impacts are very important to any evaluation of the prudence of public involvement in sports facility projects. While these impacts have been broadly identified, the form, magnitude, and direction of these impacts remains unclear. In the coming years,facility boosters and scholars need to do a much better job of articulating these impacts, both positive and negative, so that they may be more accurately captured in impact studies completed for these projects."

Obviously, this is one paper and cannot be the sole proof of the argument, inasmuch as one could find another paper arguing the different side. However, you could also consult Zimbalist's book which makes the same argument, and a dozen other pieces that argue the same thing.

I'll put it to you this way: If someone out there can find an impartial academic study (i.e., one not funded by the sports team or city wishing to publish something that backs up their phony claims) that proves that these stadiums provide an economic benefit to the cities which pay for them, I will gladly retract my statement.

Seth said...

To those of you who persist with the "economic benefits" argument as a reason for building an arena.

Please stop. You are hurting your own cause.

The real benefit of any pro sports team is emotional, not economic. Sports teams bring a city together like no other civic institution can. You'll never see a parade for an arts organization or a restaurant or Halliburton.

Look at Boston--when they finally won the World Series, there were millions of people celebrating in the streets. Who doesn't want that?

The question shouldn't be "Does a new arena make economic sense." It should be "how much are we willing to pay to keep the thrill of rooting, caring, loving a sports team in our community."

Surely, there's a limit on that number. Would you pay $10,000/year to keep the Sonics here? I'm sure you wouldn't. Would the casual fan? Of course not. But they might be willing to pay $25, or $50.

Economics aren't going to keep the Sonics here. An appeal to emotion--to images of fathers and daughters watching games together--to stories kids who grow up emulating Ray Allen--showing people that the Sonics are more than just a cog in an economic machine...that's what, if anything, will work.

yearsago said...

Agreed.

Sports provide a emotional and a cultural release. What other public event can bring a city together like sporting events, civic pride, all that jazz.

We subsidize things all of the time that improves the lifestyle of a city goer.

t dawg said...

nuss... i think you're doing a great job arguing the correct point here (as painful as it is.) I love the Sonics, 'Hawks and M's. But living in Denver it isn't like I get to see them in the home arena anyway. If they move I still get to have them as my team, and in reality they are no closer or farther away if they move or not. But even though I'm not a taxpayer in King County or WA state anymore-- that doesn't change the fact that it is wrong for the professional sports to expect public funding.

Does anyone remember when that started? My guess is, it started when some greedy jackass owner said, "Build me a new stadium or I'll move the team to XXX, since they will." And first the cities laughed. Then one day an owner (Modell, maybe? I don't know which one did it first) moved the team, the city cried, and all the other owners said, "Damn-- look at that. We can do that too. They'll pay for us to triple the worth of our team. Sweet!"

And the people all went, "Nooooo.... don't leave. We love you." And the new town's people said, "We'll do anything for you. We'll even suck your--" well, okay they may not have said that, but they did everything up to that.

We (the people of this country) should not have bent to the whims of rich men's fancies (well, any more than we typically do in politics) and we should NEVER have begun undercutting each other for the scraps left off the rich men's tables.

"The fault dear Brutus, lies not in the stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."

We matter not to the league, as anything other than potential spenders... the league doesn't want Seattle as much as they want Seattle's money--and if they can't get Seattle's money, they'll go somewhere else.

The NBA is an expensive hooker. Anyone that wants to continue to pay for her services is nothing more than a John, and he is falling prey to the world's true oldest profession-- rich men taking from poorer men.

MeAgain said...

A couple of things here.

For those who keep arguing that the user tax proposed for the arena could be better spent on education, the homeless, etc. -- great idea. Too bad it doesn't work that way. Money spent on education and social services come primarily from property and, if a state has one, income taxes with some state and federal funds thrown in. "User taxes" usually target a specific fund/project. In this case, the only "locals" that would be heavily inconvenienced would be ones that like to eat out a lot. And if you can afford to eat out that much, a couple of extra bucks to save the team isn't going to make or break you, is it?

For the record, I don't have any kids, and I've been fortunate enough to not need many social services in my life, but you won't find me bitching about my tax money going toward those endeavors.

And Pete, I'm the anonymous who said you mispresented Ray Allen's remarks. I stand by that. By saying he was "complaining", you put his words into your context. As I see it, he was comparing stadiums as they stand in 2006. I didn't read those comments a request.

biggie said...

Fuck it, I love my Sonics but if they leave it's not the end of the world I'll still have my Husky mens basketball team, and I'll still have the seahawks and huskies football teams. If they stay great, I can watch them w/ my son as he grows up and my daughter too. I'm going to the games this year because I love my Sonics (no mattter who owns 'em, unless it's the Klan......) I wanna see how they do, I wanna see Ray and them get to the finals. I'm just tired of talking and reading about this. Go to the games this upcoming season, show your love and what ever happens, happens. Ces la vie.

DonDraper said...

I agree with the original post (and did yesterday at TrueHoop too): just because I'm a fan and willing to pay doesn't mean everyone else should have to as well. I disagreed with it for the other two stadiums and again now with the Key. Put it to a vote if we have to, but it just seems like a waste. While we can also complain about some arts funding or some similar subsidy, another glaring difference hits us: the sculptors, muralists, dancers and whoever aren't getting $60M+ profit on the sale of their team, or guaranteed average contracts of $5M/year. Call me petty, but the amount matters.

Frankie said...

It comes down to this: average joe padding the wallets of the rich owners. It ain't right whichever way you try to justify it. These guys want a new place to make even more money? Let 'em buy one themselves. The players (multi-millionaires all) want a new place to get paid millions for playing a game instead of working for a living, instead of busting their asses 40+ hours a week for not much? Let 'em pay for it themselves. Cry me a freaking river.

Tim said...

yearsago, I am on board with you. The money spent on the Key does not take away money for the homeless or schools. It is a different tax, and for most people in King County, you won't even notice it. It is already in effect, it is what funds Safeco and Qwest, and is paid by rental car tax, hotel room tax, and resturant tax. The Key project would just extend it a few years. If you didn't notice it before, you won't notice it now. Although I did notice the extra $450 dollars I paid for a monorail in June that I will never see. I bet the average citizen of Seattle doesn't pay that much for the Key in two years, so why complain about it? I pay for parks I never use, Benaroya Hall, our giant, state of the art, designer library that cost way more than a regualr library should have, so why should I be denied my team? So what if the owners and players are rich. They don't own the Key, they rent it. And they still pay taxes, visit sick kids and make our lives a little more interesting during the season. You can not put a price tag on emotion. I for one will be VERY unhappy if they leave, as I am a hoops fan first and foremost. No more getting together with freinds before and after the games, sitting in the Fox Sports HD Lounge at half-time drinking $7 Coors lights. I look forward to that every October. My wife and I are going to adopt a boy this fall, and I was looking forward to bringing him to games and making him a hoops junky too. And as much as I like the Dawgs, I am an NBA fan, not so much of a college fan. And before anyone tells me how much better college ball is, I can only say "I don't care, its my opinion". Life without the Sonics will be fine, I would just rather keep them around.

And Biggie, your right, everyone needs to show support for the Sonics. Go to as many games as possible, as they may be your last. Even if they leave ,they will still be my team, and I don't plan on heading to OKC anytime soon.
To show my support, I just paid off my season tickets, first time in 10 years I have paid before the pre-season started!

yearsago said...

I love my Sonics but if they leave it's not the end of the world I'll still have my Husky mens basketball team, and I'll still have the seahawks and huskies football teams.

Its all a cycle, if this issue came up 10 years ago, You wouldnt have mentioned Husky basketball or Seahawk football.

Paul Merrill said...

Wow! 30 posts and not a single death threat. Well done, everyone.

I have to say I have real mixed feelings about this as well. I love the Sonics more than any grown man should. In fact, I love them so much that I hate the Seahawks and Mariners just out of spite.

Having said that, over the past few years, I've also grown to hate the NBA. Stern has done everything in his power to drive away average Joes like me from going to games and replacing us with millionaires and corporate suites.

I can't even afford to go to games as it is, and I'm supposed to support building more luxury boxes that I will never be able to go in?

nuss said...

As to the argument of civic taxes:

You (all of you) are correct that the money spent on Key Arena does not come out of the same pot that feeds schools, roads, etc. The money is purely from luxuries, and will not be felt by the average citizen in a measurable way. And, yes, it was a waste of money to spend what Seattle did on the Monorail and library.

But since when do these wrongs make it right to spend money on the Sonics? I, for one, am against almost all taxes. I agree, we shouldn't have spent the money on the library. I agree, we shouldn't have spent the money on the monorail (although I do agree with an improvement in public transporation, inasmuch as it saves money in road construction in the long-term, and promotes a healthier city to live in). But likewise, I don't think we should spend money on improving the Key.

Throwing money at the Key because of previous fiscal stupidity is not an answer, and it does nothing to rectify the prior mistakes. I agree wholeheartedly with the argument that the Sonics provide a true emotional benefit to the city, but I think that benefit is worth far less than $150 million (which is an inaccurate figure to begin with, considering how much money the city has already spent on the Key 10 years ago).

nuss said...

And as to Ray Allen, I think there's a misunderstanding here. I used Allen's quotes to illustrate a point; that the stadium construction cycle is just that - a cycle. No matter what we do to refurbish the Key, within 20 years, whoever's playing for the Sonics will mention what's wrong with it and what we need to improve. Ray Allen may not be have been bitching about the Key, but he certainly illustrated the side of the argument which I oppose. If you construed my comments as if to say that Allen is a whiner who hates the Key, well, I'll take some responsibility for the misunderstanding.

yearsago said...

Seriouslly has the hotel and resturant tax really hurt the average going public?

Folks this is a User based TAX. Its not a straight across the board tax, where you are getting hit, even if you don't want to.

You want padding the wallets of rich millionares? Sound transit is going to be what..10-12 billion dollars? You don't think these construction companies make some serious money?

I'd rather give a 10 dollars a year to something like the sonics and a new NHL team, than 10 dollars into something like soundtransit or monorail.

yearsago said...

And wasnt it also said, that even without the sonics, the Key still needs 20-30 million dollars in improvements? So either way, we are going to be coughing up.

Paul Merrill said...

"I'd rather give a 10 dollars a year to something like the sonics and a new NHL team, than 10 dollars into something like soundtransit or monorail."

Seriously? Do you live in the city? I do, and I would give my left nut to be able to have a decent way to get around town. Seattle's transportation system is a joke. The monorail plan was a mess (welcome to Seattle!) but it least they were trying to solve the problem.

I love the Sonics, but I think we really need to get our priorities straight.

yearsago said...

Seriously? Do you live in the city? I do, and I would give my left nut to be able to have a decent way to get around town. Seattle's transportation system is a joke. The monorail plan was a mess (welcome to Seattle!) but it least they were trying to solve the problem.

I love the Sonics, but I think we really need to get our priorities straight.


I used to live in the city, but then I wised up and moved right on out. You are not seriouslly going to give the city credit because they spent millions of dollars on 'trying' something? The monorail was a antiquated technology, that would server how many riders?

Want to solve some of the problems, invest more into bussing instead of spending billions of dollars on monorails.

meagain said...

"the stadium construction cycle is just that - a cycle. No matter what we do to refurbish the Key, within 20 years, whoever's playing for the Sonics will mention what's wrong with it and what we need to improve. "

Pete, of course it's cyclical. How could it not be? It's just like owning a house. Just because you spend money to paint your house now doesn't mean you won't need to spend it again in a few years. The city owns the Key -- it has a custodial responsibility to keep it up. Now what that constitues is up for debate. Some money you spend because it's absolutely necessary, and some just because it makes the property more attractive/valuable/etc. A bad landlord will only do the former, a good landlord will do both. Either way, money has to be spent -- there's no way around that fact.

gabriel mott said...

I was born in Seattle in 1972 but really moved away from Seattle around the peak years of the mid nineties. I remember so well when Kendall Gill got here, how amazed he was at the fan base and the enthusias. Seattle was a Basketball Town through and through. Every game was a sellout.

Has anyone done any research on the following? If we had kept on winning and thus selling out games, would the KEY ARENA still not have allowed the team to break even? I am in Maui now but still watch every Sonics game I can, and it still matters to me that they stay in Seattle. But, I can appreciate Nuss's point. The Key Arena is such a sweet place to watch a game. Shouldn't the business owners have run a better business (Mclivaine, Booth, Baker, Walker, etc.)? I guess the point is moot now, what I am hoping for is that one of those neuvo rich seattle guys tries a little payback to the community and gets the team back from the okies.

Final note: Shame on David Stern for not standing up for a 40 year old franchise. What a punk.

Zachary Geballe said...

re: what meagain just wrote...I agree, it's just like how the city has to spend money on road maintainance every year: we don't suddenly expect roads to never get potholes, do we.

I'm another big time Sonic lover, and while I hate the economic model of the NBA and hate that it's become the responsibility of cities to build and maintain the arenas, that's the sad truth.

I'd rather pay the extra money in taxes then lose my favorite team, but I don't blame anyone who has another point of view...

AK1984 said...

Well, I flat-out agree with Pete's viewpoint regarding the arena issue.

Anyway, with that noted, I've had a hellacious time debating this shitty situation with the folks over at SonicsCentral; it'll probably hit 'em pretty fuckin' hard when the NBA Oklahoma City Tumbleweeds take the court during the 2007-2008 season.

Anonymous said...

I think the only thing that is going to save the Sonics in this region is a new arena in Bellevue through private investment. The Seattle mayor and city council have made their position clear and there is no way voters would approve financing a remodel.

They'll just continue to let the Seattle Center deteriorate and come begging for taxes to improve it a few years after the Sonics are gone. So many people are short-sighted when it comes to this. How sweet would it be to have a new arena as the center piece to an renovated Seattle Center? It drives me crazy. The Center is quirky at best. Lets turn that crappy Seattle Center stadium into a giant parking garage. It sucks to walk over there during Bumbershoot anyway.

So lets see what happens over on the Eastside cause this we cant get it done in the city we should.

ButterDog

nuss said...

Meagain: I agree, money needs to be spent on a periodic basis to maintain/improve any facility. I look at it from this perspective: The Sonics are a tenant, and the city is the landlord. Now, imagine if you were renting a house and demanded the owners upgrade the electrical system and install a new washer and dryer. Fine, they say, you're right, it's an old house, you're a great tenant and we want to keep you here.

Now, less than 10 years later, you come back to them and say, you know what, that w&d is no longer good enough. I looked at another house in Tacoma, and they've got a w&d that makes coffee and irons the clothes to boot. If you don't give me the same w&d, I'm going to move to Tacoma.

Imagine what the landlord would say to that? Now, that is a horribly oversimplified answer to your response, in that it doesn't take into account the emotional benefit the Sonics provide Seattle, but I think it illustrates the feeling I have - and many others have - regarding sports teams and their neverending desire for more and more concessions from benevolent municipalities.

Gabriel: Good question. According to Howard Schultz, the Sonics will lose money regardless of if they sell out every game for the next 10 years. That was the crux of his argument, that the Sonics HAVE to have a better lease and a refurbished Key, or they can never make any money.

t dawg said...

hate that schultz argument... it's a rich man's argument. he doesn't mention the fact that ownership of a franchise is like real estate in Santa Barbara County (spent 4 years there-- property went up over 300% in that time.)

Yeah... the team will never make money, blah blah blah. Of course, the second i sell this thing that i may have lost a million on once, i get 50 million for it.

Hey-- I've got a truck. I bought it for 27k new. It's an 03 Silverado 1500 extended cab. Nice truck. Each year I own it, it decreases in value. I can't sell it for 41k 5 years after i buy it. But if it was an NBA franchise... well... this would be fun!

For sale-- truck. 40k. I'd prefer ownership stay local since i think it has become an institution in my town.

anyone want it? i know i paid 27 for it, but now you can have a mere 3 year old truck, for 40k.

anyone? cause dammit, my parking garage agreement expired and if nobody wants to buy it from my, i'm gonna park it in another garage-- they are offering me free detailing, and an endless supply of gas.

my truck loved this town, but it is fiscally imprudent for me to keep it here, i must move it otherwise my truck will continue to lose value.

i know... its kind of a sketchy metaphor, i like the landlord/sea-tac one better, but it is kinda fun to play around with.

meagain said...

Pete: Point taken. You asked for a new W&D and you got it. You're happy for a while.

But then you start noticing all the new apartments going up around you. And, you notice that they do have the newer W&D with the latest bells & whistles. AND, to top it all off, you realize that not only do those tenants have better amenities, but you're paying a much higher rent than they are. Because, after all, that's the real crux of the problem, isn't it? If the Sonics had a "better" lease agreement, I doubt the renovations would be such a big deal.

So now, are you an ungrateful tenant, or are you being logical in looking for better digs?

And if you're the landlord, do you tell your long-term tenant, who's never been late with the rent, keeps the property clean, has never done any harm, to get lost if he doesn't like it? Or do you try to bring your property up to snuff (relatively)and in the process keep your good tenant happy.

If you choose the former, aren't you running the risk that 1: you'll lose money due to the fact that a new tenant won't be found quickly; and 2: that you'll end up with a tenant who couldn't care less about the place?

nuss said...

Good point. Unfortunately, this is not a 100% correct analogy, in that the market determines rental rates, whereas the Sonics' situation relies on non-market factors (emotional ties, history, etc.). A better analogy (and I should have thought of this), would be a small business owner who signs a 5-year lease on a building. I think you'd be surprised how difficult landlords are to deal with. In my case, after being in the same building for 15 years, I went to the landlord and asked them to replace the carpets and paint, which had never been done after we moved in. Their response? Stuff it.

In thinking of it this way, I can see the frustration Schultz must have felt with the council. That said, Schultz bought the team in 2000 knowing full well what the situation was. Plus, the city has already accommodated the Sonics in the mid-90s by doing everything the team asked for. This isn't a case where a tenant has been stuck in a bad situation with a landlord could care less about them. This is a case where a tenant will never be satisfied. This complaining about the situation didn't start yesterday; it started more than 3 years ago, which means it took the Sonics less than 10 years to become dissatisfied with their situation. How long will it take them this time around?

Anonymous said...

"Yawn"

Tim said...

Why doesn't anyone talk about just re-writting the lease? Maybe some smaller, less costly upgrades, and than re-work the lease to give the ownership more of the income based on ticket sales. as previously stated, the Key nedds to be renovated regardless of the sonics situation. So why not fix it up a little, re-write the lease, and everyones a winner. Getting Ray allen a cell signal and wi-fi ahould not be that hard. And a couple of offices for the assitant coaches couln't soct that much. Maybe lease some of the interior to local resturants, let them pay the costs of creating their space, and viola, more choices inside the Key. How good would a delux, fry and a vanilla shake taste at halftime? I am sure alot better than an old Digiorno pizze heated up under a 250 watt heat lamp. If the lease is the issue, fix the lease. How hard could it be?

Tim said...

Sorry, I forgot spell check!

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