Politics Net Losses
When asked how much Seattle would be hurt if the Sonics left town, City Council President Nick Licata told Sports Illustrated, “On an economic basis, near zero.”
Licata is right. While the Sonics can trot out NBA studies showing how the team brings $200 million a year to the city, academic studies, like this recent CATO institute study, show that sports teams have no effect on, and may actually hurt, local economies.
Howard Schultz is currently seeking a $200 million subsidy that would tax Queen Anne restaurants and bars along with bars and restaurants all over the city to support a one-stop shop night out at Queen Anne’s Key Arena.
Schultz responds to Licata’s quote in today’s Seattle Times sports page saying, “I read that, and said, ‘Who is this guy representing?’”
Given that city already financed an estimated $70 plus million upgrade to KeyArena just 10 years ago, and given that the city is now paying out about $2.6 million a year (with a debt service schedule until 2014) to pay off that construction—a bill the Sonics were supposed to cover with their own revenues—I’d say Licata is representing Seattle tax payers.
At yesterday’s city council Parks Committee meeting, city staffer Bill Alves lays out exactly how the city is getting dinged by the Sonics. (Go to the “Parks, Education, Libraries, and Labor Committee 2/1/06” link and then fast forward to about 38:00 in the streaming video.)