Politics The Key Question
posted by July 20 at 11:16 AMon
The Seattle Times reports that Sonics/Storm owner Clay Bennett wants to reopen negotiations with the city about the KeyArena lease.
I’m pretty much still against subsidizing the Sonics at the Key for reasons I reported when the issue was before the city in 2006:
An in-depth 2004 study by the Cato Institute found that, if anything, professional sports teams may actually hurt local economies. The study debunks industry claims that sports teams generate new consumer spending (they actually just suck up existing discretionary spending), and concludes, “the net economic impact [is] a reduction in real per-capita income over the entire metropolitan area.”
In addition to the economic specifics, there are also some ugly details about the city’s current arrangement with the Sonics that undermine the team’s case for a new handoutóand bolster [council member Nick] Licata’s skepticism. The city just authorized and financed a $77 million upgrade to KeyArena in 1995. With debt service, the total bill stands at about $130 million. (The city would still be covering that debt, due by 2014, while taking on this new one.) The Sonics were supposed to cover the debt themselves, but because the Sonics are in the red, the city has been covering the difference to the tune of $2.2 million a year since 2000. (It spiked at $2.9 million last year.)
However, something has certainly changed since then. The Sonics got a big deal draft pick, Kevin Durant. Another thing that’s happened since then, though, is a citywide vote saying “No” to sports subsidies, resoundingly: 74-25.
We’ve been doing our city council candidate interviews this month and one “Yes or No” question we’ve been asking is: Should the city reconsider subsidizing the Sonics?
According to our notes, only three candidates have said “Yes.” Scott Feldman (it’s his platform centerpiece, actually); Bruce Harrell (in general, he stresses that he’s big on “building bridges and finding common ground”ówhich didn’t ring true because he struck me as a pretty ornery and stubborn guy); and John Manning (which contradicted the frustration he voiced in the interview about city leaders ignoring public votes on the baseball stadium and the monorail.)