Wednesday, March 5

Sonics Lose, Seattle Wins?

Am I the only who is beginning to feel like a child in a custody case?

On the one hand, dad just got the okay from the bank to build a new house for himself in another town. On the other, mom is sweet-talking some new guys down at the country club and there's a chance she might get them to build her a house with an in-ground pool, game room, and all the other stuff.

If you can't decipher that convulted metaphor, here it is in plain English: Oklahoma City passed its sales tax initiative, clearing the way for the Ford Center to be remodeled and made NBA-ready.

At the same time, the Sonics appear to have solidified their local ownership possibility, with a $300 million KeyArena renovation package on the table, the money being split between private and public concerns. According to Matt Griffin, the lead spokesman it seems for this private group, the private money is not a problem.

The public money? Well, the plan calls for $75 million in state funding and $75 million from the city of Seattle.

As someone who routinely decries the continual bailing out of private interests by public funds in these situations, I have to say I like this package. The $150 million in private contributions from the prospective owners gives the city/state something usually lacking in these situations: a financial tie-in.

Note that Bennett's plan for Seattle called for zero money from his pocket in the $500 million palace he asked for, while this plan calls for a 50/50 split. By ponying up $150 of their own money, the new owners would be unlikely to want to uproot the team 10 years from now, not to mention the fact that they are all, well, local.

Again, the pressure is on the state legislature and the local council to come through. I urge everyone again to phone the legislative hotline and/or your local officials to come through for the Sonics. Here is the number for Olympia:


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