Dear NBA: Don't Take Seattle for Granted

We're Perfectly Capable of Telling You to Go Fuck Yourself

Dear NBA: Don't Take Seattle for Granted

James Yamasaki

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Rumors and updates have been trickling out of Sacramento all month, among them a bidding war between investment groups in Sacramento and Seattle vying for ownership of the Kings. The latest twist in the saga has NBA commissioner David Stern delaying the votes to approve the team's sale and whether to move it to Seattle, and then reversing the order of those votes. Owners will now vote on whether to move the Kings before voting on whether to approve the team's sale to Chris Hansen. It's a switch that arguably gives the advantage to Sacramento by allowing that city to put its strongest case forward. And it only adds to the perception that Stern is stacking the deck in favor of Sacramento.

That's the exact opposite of what happened here a few years back, when Stern all but conspired with Clay Bennett to steal the Sonics away to Oklahoma City. Stern is still reviled in Seattle, and rightly so. And that's something else for NBA owners to consider: Our feelings are still bruised, and our patience is limited.

Apply different rules to Seattle's bid for the Kings, and we will understand it as the unprecedented dis it truly is.

To be clear: Without public and political support—and most importantly, a team to prop this support up—the Sodo arena deal could still die. Seriously. The arena doesn't get built until Hansen secures a team. And NBA owners shouldn't fool themselves that we'll wait around forever.

The NBA has never before rejected the sale of a team to qualified owners. So if the league wants a franchise in Seattle, either the owners need to show us the same respect they showed Oklahoma City—and approve this deal—or they better quickly turn around and grant us an expansion franchise (thereby adding a new team to the league). Because the longer we go without a team, the more opportunity there will be for our process-driven political system to undermine the Sodo arena deal.

A lot of politicians stuck their necks out to make this happen. And a lot of taxpayers like me, who vehemently opposed previous arena proposals, put our knee-jerk opposition to public financing aside in order to embrace the relatively fair deal offered by Hansen. But a lot can happen between now and the time the arena's environmental review is completed. Like an election. And who knows? Perhaps Mayor Ed Murray won't bother spending the political capital necessary to see his predecessor's biggest accomplishment through to completion?

If the NBA doesn't want to be in the Seattle market, fine. But if they think they'll gain anything by toying with our affections, they better think again. We told the league to go fuck itself once, and we're perfectly capable of doing it a second time. recommended


Comments (31) RSS

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We are also perfectly capable of telling Chris Hansen to go fuck himself.
Posted by hmmmmm on April 24, 2013 at 9:15 AM · Report this
Please bold and underline the part about granting an expansion franchise.

Have you seen the Sacto roster? We're not getting Kevin Durant back.
Posted by capicola on April 24, 2013 at 9:42 AM · Report this
The Stranger commenting on sports is kind of like ESPN discussing gay rights but the point here is basically valid. Either the NBA BOG (with Darth Stern's guidance) approves the Kings sale, grants relocation or risks permanently alienating the Seattle market. The way the Sonics were ripped away from us was a sad state of affairs and was designed to do exactly what is happening in Sactown. It was designed to scare the pants off any city that doesn't pony up big dollars (public or private) to support the NBA's modern corporate business model. So now the people of Sacramento are scared and are committing (at least trying to) to a completely unsustainable business model in a frantic effort to keep their only pro sports team. Congrats Mr. Stern. Cities will mortgage their own future for your league. You won. Game over. Now make a decision, retire and disappear into your giant money cave.
Posted by pickNroll on April 24, 2013 at 10:06 AM · Report this
Chasing pro sports teams by offering the most lavish arena, stadium, or park deal is always a losing proposition in the long term – unless you are the franchise owner. Seattle has had more than its share of this nonsense. The economic impact of a pro sports franchise is negligible. Studies of multiple stadium deals have not found any significant economic benefits sufficient to justify the large public outlays required. The Sonics average game attendance in its last 5 years was between 13 and 16 thousand. By comparison, the Seattle Thunderbirds bring in about 1/2 to 2/3 that number on a good night. The city has not dried up and blown away in the absence of the Sonics, and it would not wither away if we don’t get another team. No public money or bonds should be tied up to fatten the pockets of the NBA and team owners. There are many more worthy investments the city can make that would give it a much bigger return than another pro sports team.
Posted by PAWA on April 24, 2013 at 6:08 PM · Report this
Frank Blethen's vodka distiller 5
@4 The ShoWare Center seats 7500 max for concerts and a bit less for hockey. There's no way the T-Birds draw as many people as you say.
Posted by Frank Blethen's vodka distiller on April 24, 2013 at 6:48 PM · Report this
I admit to being not invested in the whole Sonics deal, which is probably why this question comes to mind ...

Is it okay (morally, ethically, a social good) for Seattle to lobby to take a team from a city where it gets a 'decent' amount of support? I mean, it's possible that the Kings are dying on the vine and needs rescue as a viable franchise. But it is fair for Seattle to root for another city to lose an appreciated team? It's not an owner lying himself blue and sneaking the team off in the dead of night, but is this much better?

Maybe I just read too much Dave Zirin, but playing the NBA's game regarding franchise just encourages it. Demanding and leveraging to get an expansion team in the near-future ... that would be cool in so many more ways than screwing over a less powerful set of fans.
Posted by Anonymous reader on April 24, 2013 at 7:57 PM · Report this
Texas10R 7
"...our process-driven political system to undermine the Sodo arena deal."

Oh, fuck! Not a process-driven political system!

The priorities are backwards.

Fuck the NBA, NFL, NCAA, MLB, and all the rest of the acronym-based private sports enterprises that actually funnel local funds OUT of the regional economy and into the accounts of millionaires and billionaires elsewhere.

There is not one single credible cost-benefit analysis that demonstrates public dollars guaranty a profitable return on investment for a public-private professional sports franchise. (Really? Name it! I said "CREDIBLE.) And yes, NCAA should be considered a for-profit sports franchise operation.

Public and private funds should instead target all the same energy and funding toward making the King-Pierce-Snohomish Counties region the greatest metropolitan area in the U.S.

It could happen if the political will and "private-enterprise" determination existed, spurring the population in the same sentiment. It used to be called...Leadership.

What if the region cooperated to make itself the lowest in crime, the highest in public education, the most ethical in public administration, the most effective in transportation management, air & water quality, employment? What could be the effects on taxes, quality of life, tranquility.

There would be NO wrangling of the region for ANY sports franchises; there would be competitive-bidding by the sports franchisers against each other for the RIGHTS to be the regional franchise of their respective public funding risk nor liability required.

But instead the discussion is about yet another grand concrete coliseum and for how much the people should put themselves on the hook. But what about the tunnel(s), bridge(s) ... Oh well, play ball, dumbfucks.

The priorities are backwards.
Posted by Texas10R on April 24, 2013 at 8:10 PM · Report this

A city that can boast having such a high percentage of "educated" people, has so many that are still opposing the arena deal, yet have never bothered to read the MOU.
Posted by JetCityWoman on April 25, 2013 at 3:49 AM · Report this
Wait - people still care about basketball? I had no idea.
Posted by ctmcmull on April 25, 2013 at 9:59 AM · Report this
JF 10
@7 How does this deal prevents any of those utopian dreams from happening? It's not as if we're using money that can be spent elsewhere. We're acting as a lender, receiving the benefits of that position and we'll have professional hockey and basketball to enjoy.
Posted by JF on April 25, 2013 at 1:09 PM · Report this
#7, thanks for that baseless and pointless rant. Unlike Hansen who actually puts up capital to realize his dream, you anonymously rant on the Stranger. Perhaps your priorities are displaced if you believe this lazy manifesto merits discussion. How else can you explain wasting time complaining on an anonymous comments section when you could be formulating a plan and actualizing your thoughts into action?
Posted by thoughtsbyme on April 25, 2013 at 1:58 PM · Report this
why dont we invest in what we already have.
Posted by hoofy on April 25, 2013 at 2:47 PM · Report this
13 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
14 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
@10 subsidized pro sports most certainly utilizes finite resources that could be better allocated... He'll I'd love it if my property taxes went towards my mortgage rather than sidewalks, roads, schools, and utilities. Plus Hansen's arena impedes on the port industrial economic activity (built with public investment) that this region was founded on.
Posted by Upchuck on April 25, 2013 at 9:47 PM · Report this
The last time I checked buying something meant it was yours.
Posted by you_are_stupid_no_really on April 25, 2013 at 10:55 PM · Report this
JF 17
@15 In most cases yes, in this deal no. We're acting as a lender, not removing from funds from one public service and just giving it to Hansen. If you can provide me an example of a public service that is being reduced because of this deal, I'm more than willing to listen. I'm also willing to hear out any examples of other borrowers who may be getting the short end of the stick.

Your house story is a false equivalency.

Your only decent point is that of the port.
Posted by JF on April 25, 2013 at 11:22 PM · Report this
'Because the longer we go without a team, the more opportunity there will be for our process-driven political system to undermine the Sodo arena deal.' Three stadiums? Undermine away.
Posted by WenG on April 26, 2013 at 9:40 AM · Report this
Looks like a turd coming out of the anus of a EBE!
Posted by 5th Columnist on April 26, 2013 at 4:47 PM · Report this
All these stadium deals do is allow teams to pay higher salaries to the players. Lower salaries to pay for you own stadiums and/or charge ticket prices that reflect the real cost of your franchise. It is amazing how even conservatives suddenly give up their belief in the free market when it comes to the use of emotion and sentiment by sports franchises to undermine rationality. Oh my God, it's a sports franchise. We need to subsidize them. Unlike our unique combination of geography, a well educated population, interesting culture, bevy of large corporations, choice in food, ports franchises aren't what makes Seattle, it is Seattle who makes sports teams. These leagues need big markets, we don't need them. This doesn't mean we shouldn't have teams but it means we should know where we stand and where the franchises stand.
Posted by SeattleRoar on April 27, 2013 at 7:56 AM · Report this
Texas10R 21
@ 11
Because, dumbfuck, this a forum intended for the exchange of thoughts and opinion. Perhaps if more people considered the massive waste of public bond capacity and risk put on the line for billionaire sports moguls (and the aspirants), more consideration would be given to wiser investments in the community than a goddam basketball arena with an outdoor waterfall––an outdoor waterfall in SEATTLE!
Posted by Texas10R on April 27, 2013 at 3:46 PM · Report this
@17, " not removing from funds from one public service and just giving it to Hansen."

You know we pick up the property tax bill for Hansen's arena, have those tax collections from others pay arena bonds rather than fund property-tax stuff, and give Hansen's arena "exemptions" on B&O taxes and a lot of sales taxes - transferring those to pay arena bonds.... that means we'll have a new arena property to support in the city that's not paying most taxes that would support it.

It's not explicitly stated in the MOU, because they're crafty like that, but it's like paying for the guest of honor when you go out to eat. Everyone else chips in more to cover the person not paying.
Posted by ChefJoe on April 28, 2013 at 12:06 AM · Report this
@21 & 22 BINGO! I'm disheartened by Seattleites' gullibility. Until we adopt a Green Bay Packer's-like model of a community-owned franchise, I can't really get behind any new major sports team.…
Posted by TBne on April 29, 2013 at 1:03 PM · Report this
I remember when The Stranger would have just told Stern, Hansen, the NBA, and others similarly situated to just go straight to hell. I do miss the Sonics, but, as a native Seattleite who lives elsewhere, and who pays confiscatory taxes on _every damn thing_ like hotels and rental cars to pay for the sandboxes for millionaires, I hope the city finally rises up and says "You want an NBA team? Fine. You pay for it, you handle it, leave us out of it."
Posted by PNWTom on April 29, 2013 at 2:04 PM · Report this
@3 you make valid points. i don't think stern
wants to make the same mistake twice. and even
though seattle clearly has a larger market and
more profitable business potential, i'm tired
of money and finance being the deciding factor
in today's world. i think keeping the team in
sacramento may be a risky proposition, but i'm
not losing any sleep over it. seattle sports
addicts have options. i'm somewhat of an avid
basketball fan, but i'd happily go watch the
sounders instead. and in agreement with your
comment regarding espn and gay rights, i feel
sports coverage is deliberately stepping into
the murky waters of politics and civil issues.
whether or not this is proper etiquette is open
for debate. p.s. there is nothing wrong with
"the stranger" tackling sports topics ($0.02)
Posted by Eugene Rushmore on April 29, 2013 at 5:06 PM · Report this
When was this first "go fuck yourself"? Having moved here from Oklahoma City, which you may recognize as home to last year's 2nd place team the OKC Thunder, the only battle cry I have heard was "ROBBED!"...
Posted by BillHicksFan on April 29, 2013 at 6:05 PM · Report this
I've lived + worked in Sac region and lived and worked in Seattle. I prefer Seattle. Would be there now if not for a family emergency that sent me back to NorCal. As cities, Sac Sucks, Seattle rocks. Weather, I don't mind rain, but do like sun. As people, Sac folks are much friendlier than Seattle freeznicks! So, Kings will stay in Sac, Seattle oh well. I liked with and without NBA, went to Hawks and M's games, love the stadiums. Would like to see NHL in the Emerald city. Have not been to a King's game in years - they really suck! Sac is a one-horse cowtown, as Phil J called it. I really don't like it as an urban place and I am an urban planner. Love Seattle neighborhoods - Ballard - fav, Cap Hill - up there, even love Rainer Valley. Wish I were still there. So don't feel bad Seattle people - far better without NBA than Sac of tomatoes will ever be with a minor league NBA team.
Posted by Riveman on April 29, 2013 at 10:59 PM · Report this
In 2008 the Seattle Supersonics were removed from Seattle, after 41 years, ultimately because the city was unable to find public money to rebuild it's facility. The league judged the city and punished the Sonic's fans by allowing the new owner to move to OKLAHOMA! Now the boss of the NBA says that "there is some benefit that should be given to (Sacramento) that has supported us for so long and has stepped up to contribute to a new building, as well...” Seattle of course did support it's team but it did not have (NBA-type) money at the start of the recession to finance an arena, not without undermining education and transportation. In 2008 the NBA made a lot of enemies in Seattle, but the lesson was not learned here. The people beg and cheer for the return of the NBA. The NBA however DID learn it's lesson from Seattle and has decided to keep its enemies in that remote village instead of spreading the truth to the Calibafoonia. Smart move...on their part.
Posted by turin07 on April 30, 2013 at 11:26 AM · Report this
I live in OKC and read The Stranger every week. If you want to keep an NBA franchise you have to have a top notch facility. Of course "Stern all but conspired with Clay Bennett" and look at the results. The Thunder is everything the Sonics never were, financially successful and boasting a hyper-loyal fan base. Can wait to visit Seattle and wear my Thunder the Fuck Up tee-shirt.
Posted by OkieDem on May 1, 2013 at 6:06 AM · Report this
JF 30
@29 Just a heads up, we don't have deep fried oreos here so you'll have to bring your own.
Posted by JF on May 1, 2013 at 8:46 AM · Report this
@30 We've moved on to deep fried bacon wrapped Twinkies, thank you very much. Served up at the Chesapeake Arena.

Tell you what, ya'll can have our Red-Hawks, as they are already used to no one showing up at their games.
Posted by OkieDem on May 2, 2013 at 12:24 PM · Report this

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