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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Yupdating Key Arena

Posted by on February 23 at 15:56 PM

NBA Commissioner David Stern testified in Olympia today for SB 6849, which would extend the Qwest Field and Safeco taxes (including a .5 percent restaurant and bar tax) to fund a $200 million KeyArena remodel for the Sonics.

Stern was asked how adding more luxury box suites was going to solve the problem if the current problem is that luxury box suites aren’t selling. (Indeed, revenues from luxury suites are supposed to be paying off the $130 million 1995 KeyArena remodel—debt service included—but the city is paying out about $2.2 million a year to cover the Sonics’ shortfall.)

Stern’s answer (unwittingly) showed why the Key Arena remodel is unfair. Stern began: “There wouldn’t be more luxury boxes. I didn’t say that. I said there will be more amenities.” He concluded: “We would be enhancing the size in the luxury suite areas. More restaurants and other amenities that people attending the game tend to enjoy.”

Stern was acknowledging that increasing the size of KeyArena from 350K square feet to 700K square feet isn’t about adding more seating capacity—it’s about Yupdating KeyArena for high-end customers. (They’re doubling the square footage and only adding about 425 seats for basketball games.) And more important: It’s about keeping them in KeyArena rather than having them venture out into Queen Anne and patronizing the bars and restaurants there. This is the NBA’s model. A one-stop shop.

Someone should have asked Stern why local bars and restaurants (particularly those in Queen Anne) should have to pay a .5 percent tax to support their direct competition.

CommentsRSS icon

Um, my apartment is about 700 square feet. Did you forget a few digits there?

I did. That's 350,000 square feet to 700,000 square feet.

What happens if the state extends the tax with the intent of funding Key Arena construction, and the city (which owns Key Arena, right?) refuses to remodel it? Can they do that?

Can they do that? Two words:

Let's monorail!

Check this out in the times today:

bottom line is that the NBA economic system is broken. Which means players get paid too much and a team's income doesn't justify it. The Sonic's answer to this is to ask for taxpayer dollars. My answer to it is that the NBA does what the NHL did - slash player's salaries across the board by 25% and lower ticket prices.

I think $200 million would be way better spent helping to keep the public schools open that Seattle is talkin about closing and giving kids an education so they don't have to go sell hot dogs at some sports arena when they grow up.

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