Monday, May 21

Hoosiers Revisited

Please enjoy this lovely, nostalgic, Hollywood-ending alternative to totally-not-ever-rigged* NBA Playoff basketball.

Via the always-on-point Cosby Sweaters.

*Remind me again why I want anything to do with that crooked operation?

Thursday, May 17

When Is a Free Lunch Not Free?

I know this might run afoul of the prevailing sentiment about the proposed new arena in SoDo, but I'd like to add my two cents about the supposed "tax-free" contributions the public will be making to said arena.

As it stands, all taxes generated by the building - from sales taxes to admission taxes to property taxes - will be redirected away from the city and county general funds and towards paying down the public's debt on the arena. (Going off memory, I think that provision lasts about five years, or at any point, it lasts until the debt is entirely paid). Proponents of the building claim this makes the building "tax-free," in the sense that as those taxes would not exist without the new building, they are, in a sense, found money.

Except that's not really the truth. Yes, there is certainly a large chunk of money that will be generated by the NewSonics that would otherwise not exist, but what percentage is unknowable and, furthermore, there is a very, very large percentage that is being re-routed from other, existing expenditures - expenditures that do contribute taxes to the general revenue.

That's a lot to digest, I know, so let me try to explain it in less complicated terms. 

Let’s take a hypothetical casual basketball fan, Xavier McMillan. In the past, Xavier attended five Sonic games a season, buying a total of 15 tickets a season (his friends, Spencer and Detlef, usually went with him). Those 15 tickets cost him an average of $30 each, and let’s say Xavier spent an additional $40 a game on food, drinks, etc (I know, he’s cheap). Add it all up and he has spent, on an annual basis:

Tickets, $450
Other, $200
Total, $650

After the Sonics left town, Xavier had no pro hoops to follow (well, he drove down to Portland once, but, geez, that was a long drive, and Spencer Payton still hasn’t paid him back for gas like he said he would). So, he started going to other games. A few M’s games, a couple UW games, even a Seattle U game that one Thursday when there wasn’t anything good on TV. In the end, he didn’t dole out the entire $650 that he did on Sonic-related spending, but he did spend $400. And all of the money he spent was being taxed and sent to general funds.

Now, a few years later, Xavier is excited about going to Payton’s Place to watch the Sonics, and all that money he spent on the Mariners, the Huskies, etc. will now get spent on the Sonics.

And that’s the key to this whole deal – instead of contributing $650 that would be taxed and used for roads, schools, and so forth, that $650 will now be taxed and used for a basketball arena.

Now, we can get into the argument about whether the government should or shouldn’t spend money on the ridiculous things it spends money on, or whether tax money spent on building new arenas for billionaires is better than tax money spent on the normal bullcrap governments spend money on. But this isn’t the time for that argument.

No, this argument is whether the money Sonic fans contribute in arena tax revenue is money that would not otherwise have been spent anywhere in King County. Ask yourself, as Sonic fans, what did you do with the money you would have spent on tickets, beers, and popcorn at KeyArena in the past few years?

I’m guessing that at least some of that Sonic money has been spent on other things – movie tickets, bar tabs, rent, Sounders tickets, whatever – all things that contribute tax money to the general fund.

However, by putting up a new arena, you will, in essence, be taking the money you would have been contributing to the general fund and, instead, be directing it towards paying down the debt on the new arena. Now, as a Sonic fan, that’s perfectly fine with you. I’m sure you’d much rather see your $100 or whatever in tax revenues spent on a basketball team than on another study of how to get people to take public transit or whatever else it would have been spent on.

But regardless of how you feel about how the money is spent, the argument that general fund revenues won’t be affected by this new arena is, well, not a lie exactly, but not exactly the truth, either.

(UPDATE: For a better, well reasoned take on this subject from someone who knows quite a bit more about it than myself, check out Field of Schemes.)

Wednesday, May 16

Arena Announcement; NHL No Longer Required

KING5 has the story. With a memorandum of understanding agreed to between the investors in a new NBA team, the mayor of Seattle, and King County, it now goes to the City Council and the King County Council for approval. If approved, construction on a new arena in the SoDo area could conceivably begin as soon as an NBA team is stolen from another city  acquired. Previous speculation had focused on any arena proposal requiring both an NBA and an NHL team for success, but today's MOU seems to indicate that only an NBA team would be necessary, although an NHL team would certainly be nice.

BREAKING NEWS: (Another) Arena Press Conference this morning

Invester/Savior Chris Hansen meets Seattle's last three Sonics fans. (Photo: Joshua Trujillo/

Only in Seattle could there be this much excitement about a "memorandum of understanding". (And only in Seattle could there BE something called a "memorandum of understanding"--way to commit, guys!)

From the Seattle Times:
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, County Executive Dow Constantine and hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen are scheduled this morning to announce details on two agreements between Seattle, King County and ArenaCo on financing a new, $490 million sports arena in Sodo.

City and county officials met late Tuesday in McGinn's City Hall office to finalize what Sung Yang, Constantine's chief of staff, characterized as a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that would be sent to the councils.

Hansen and city and county leaders initially proposed a memorandum of understanding to detail how the city and county would issue the construction bonds and how the investment group, led by Hansen, would repay them. A MOU would be less binding than an ordinance and potentially less of a guarantee of taxpayer financial commitment.
 According to KING 5 the press conference will be at 10:30 this morning.

Tuesday, May 15

The Enemy of my Enemy is . . . my Enemy?

I hate the Lakers.

Always have, always will. Whenever I see Dyan Cannon and all the other phony-baloney "fans" at the Forum, I get an overwhelming urge to stab them in the sunglasses. And don't get me started on the wanna-be Lakers fans who would show up at Sonics games wearing Kobe jerseys. What kind of sick bastard would do that?!

 But here I am, a man without a team, long divorced from the ups and downs of the NBA, slowly getting pulled back into the heat of PLAYOFF FEVER by, of all things, the Lakers.

You see, those filthy, rotten Lakers are playing the only team in all of sports that are even more filthy and rotten than they are: The Team That Shall Not Be Named. The Oklahoma . . . ghuhhhhhhh. I can't even write it. Let's just call them . . . Those Guys.

It was bad enough to steal our team (and recently, our history). Now these villainous cretins are forcing me to root for a team that I've hated since I was a child.

 There are probably some old-time Sonics fans that think we should cheer for the You Know Who. After all, we drafted a few of them, and, well, they're playing the LAKERS for God's sake! Well, these people are idiots.

Anyone who would ever root for . . . THEM . . . is not a Sonics fan. A true Sonics fan would root for a team of Hitlers over Those Guys.

Which is exactly what I'm doing. I'm rooting for a bully. I'm cheering for Satan. I'm . . . (shudder) . . . a Lakers fan.

 I want the Lakers to win every game by 2000 points. I want . . . that other team . . . to sob openly on the court and then hurl themselves en masse off the nearest bridge which, hopefully, happens to be over a lake of fire. I want them permanently erased from the NBA record books. Then I want the record books to be burned, just to be safe.

I want all of this to happen. And then I want the Lakers to get swept in the next round.

Thursday, May 3

Just When You Thought You Couldn't Hate Howie Any More

Unbelievable article up right now detailing the final despairing days of a Sonic employee. The money quote:

I didn't see how we'd get an arena deal led by men who couldn't conceive of it as anything but a rich man's boondoggle, perpetrated on behalf of other rich people. Average people would shoulder the costs of making sure that the Puget Sound's affluent—suits at Boeing, executives at Microsoft—could be coddled at a sporting event that average people would no longer be able to afford to attend. 

 See the rest at Deadspin. No, really, see the rest at Deadpin, like, right now. Story by Jeremy Repanich.

Wednesday, May 2

Deserve? Deserve's Got Nothing To Do With It

"But [the Maloofs] don't deserve [Anthony] Davis. They don't deserve a team."

-Steve Kelley, Seattle Times, May 2

Let's get one thing straight - deserve's got nothing to do with.

You want to talk about deserve? Does Jerry Buss - a Class A philanderer - deserve Kobe Bryant?

Does Donald Sterling - a racist skinflint - deserve Blake Griffin or Chris Paul?

Does Aubrey McClendon - a top-class con artist who has swindled his own company out of hundreds of millions of dollars - deserve Kevin Durant?

Does James Dolan - a top-notch jerk who seems to flounder from one disaster to the next - deserve Jeremy Lin?

For crying out loud, who does deserve Anthony Davis? As it stands now, Michael Jordan and the Bobcats will get Davis, even though they forced their customers to pay first-class prices for third-class service the entire 2011-12 season. Do they deserve Davis?

The answer, of course, is no. As much as Steve Kelley would like to get free tickets to NBA games again, and as scandalous as the NBA's departure from Seattle was, we don't deserve an NBA team any more than anyone else. And the notion that David Stern will now - after 30 years of being a condescending and selfish twit- suddenly morph into a benevolent dictator and hand us the keys to the Sacramento Kings, well, I'm sorry, but I'm not holding my breath about that happening anytime soon.

David Stern is going to do what David Stern always does: Get the best deal he can for his owners and let the chips fall where they may. If he can keep the Maloofs in Sacramento and get a new arena he will, but if not, it will be up to the Maloofs - not David Stern, not Steve Kelley, not anyone else - where the team will go next.

Because deserve's got nothing to do with it.