Friday, March 7, 2008

SOS - Tell Your Friends – Please!

Ask yourself a question: What do I feel about the Seattle Supersonics situation?

Now ask yourself: Why do I feel this?

I do this because it made complete sense to me last night why no one (on a national level) is coming to bat for the Sonics: misinformation.

The country has not been told about the good things that are happening here in Seattle for the Supersonics. All anyone is hearing is that the fans don’t care, the government doesn’t care and the city would be fine with watching their 40-year old team leave.

All of that is wrong.

The city of Seattle passed Initiative 91 (I-91 going forward) last year to block public funding for private sports franchises. This is because the city got tired of funding these arenas for teams that had the money to do it themselves.

I-91 seems to be a foreboding loom on the horizon for the Supersonics and that is one of the reasons that people think Seattleites don’t care about the future of the franchise.

To add to the picture I give you Howard Schultz. Schultz is the CEO of Starbucks and the former owner of the Sonics. He was the person who sold the Sonics to Clay Bennett and his Oklahoma City based company. Schultz was in talks with the Seattle city and Washington State governments to upgrade the Key Arena facilities previous to the sale to Bennett. His contribution to this: $18M dollars.

He wasn’t getting anywhere with the proposed deal, cornering him and forcing him to sell to Bennett’s group.

“Schultz said the reason for the sale was his group's inability to secure a solid economic future for the clubs working with Seattle and Washington state officials. Since Schultz feels his group cannot accomplish their goal of securing pro basketball's future in the city, they feel "new blood" might break the logjam.” [1]

Clay Bennett stated that he had every intention of keeping the team in the area, provided that it could be “economically viable”.

What is economically viable to him?

How about a $500 Million event center? What about $300 Million of that coming from the state and the rest from the city where it is to built (Renton). His contribution to this: $0M dollars.

Wait a second. It sounds to me like rich people want to get richer by using a team to build an arena that is going to make them more money at the expense of the city, county and the state. How is that me not wanting the Sonics to stay?

Then Mr. Bennett decided that he did in fact want to move the team to Oklahoma City. (Gasp) I didn’t see that coming. Oh, wait I did:

“(Aubrey) McClendon, chief executive of Chesapeake Energy, came under fire after he told the Journal: "We didn't buy the team to keep it in Seattle, we hoped to come here. We know it's a little more difficult financially here in Oklahoma City, but we think it's great for the community and if we could break even we'd be thrilled." [2]

Seattle has been waiting. We have been waiting for something to happen, then we saw this:

“An Oklahoma City vote on a $120 million sales-tax measure aimed at luring the Sonics to that city has passed by an overwhelming margin…The measure, funded by a one-cent sales tax extension, will renovate the city's six-year-old Ford Center and build a new NBA practice facility in order to attract the city's first major-league franchise.” [3]

The best part of this? This is to upgrade an arena they already have, as opposed to building a new one (for $500M) like he wanted in Seattle.

Is someone biased?

Then yesterday there was a ray of light. It came out that four local businessmen want to purchase the team and are willing to pay most of the costs for renovations to Key Arena. The men are:

- Steve Ballmer: Microsoft Chief Executive Officer
- John Stanton: CEO of Western Wireless Corp.
- Jim Sinegal: The co-founder and chief executive of Costco
- Matt Griffin: Seattle developer

These four guys have put together a plan that goes like this: $300 Million to upgrade Key Arena; $150M from the four men, $75M from the city and $75M from the state. All of these funds would be attached to a tax that is already coming out for Safeco Field. All of this wouldn’t cost the city or the state one penny more then it is right now. All of this would be free to the rest of the population.

And I-91 wouldn’t be an issue, because this is about fixing Key Arena as well as the Seattle Center (the area surrounding) for the purpose of concerts and other social events. The keeping of a basketball team would be a happy by-product.

There is still some trouble to be fought off, what with the Capital shutting down next week and the Representatives saying there isn’t enough time.

So why has no one heard of this? Why does no one seem to think that the Seattle population cares?

Because that is what Clay Bennett and his good friend David Stern want people to think. They want people to think that no one in Seattle wants the Sonics to stay. They want all of the owners to think that OKC is the best option when they meet on April 17th and 18th to discuss the moving of the team. This isn’t just speculation.

Larry H. Miller, the owner of the Utah Jazz, has a weekly show with David Locke on The Fan in Salt Lake. On his show last night he started out with the thought that this was only $150M and was all by the city. Locke informed him of the difference and he said: “But they already fixed it up and what is $225M more going to do. Locke then let him know it was $300M and Miller Changed his tune. He stated that the teams and owners have a responsibility to their cities. Through the entire interview you could hear his ideas and feelings changing.

To me that reads of people being informed incorrectly. waited until this morning to post anything on it, and it is just the AP report on the NBA page. has it listed as a top story in the NBA listing but Papelbon’s 1-year contract made it to the front page.

It isn’t even listed in the NBA section on CBS Sportsline.

This isn’t about us needing more coverage, it is about BETTER coverage. I would bet that 75% of you who read this had NO idea about most of this.

That is what the NBA wants.

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