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Friday, July 20, 2007

The Key Question

posted by on July 20 at 11:16 AM

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.)

RSS icon Comments

1

"Subsidizing" is a rather broad term that requires better definiion. I'd be dubious of anyone who answered with a flat "No".

That said, Fuck Clay Bennett.

Posted by DOUG. | July 20, 2007 11:19 AM
2

I'll be so pissed if I end up paying for another fucking stadium.

Posted by monkey | July 20, 2007 11:21 AM
3

So is the Slog (Flog?) now just a vehicle for Stranger staff to recall their past stories in a public forum? Wasn't one pincer assault on the English language and American civilization enough? If you want masturbatory self congratulation, I think you should all go back to standing naked at 11th and Pine and screaming the names of girls/boys who would not dance with you at the 7th grade prom.

Posted by StrangerDanger | July 20, 2007 11:21 AM
4

If you don't like SLOG or the Stranger, StrangerDanger, then go somewhere else with your bullshit and enjoy fucking up other blogs.

Posted by ecce homo | July 20, 2007 11:36 AM
5

@ Josh, there was another article in the Economist last summer (?) that looked at the economic costs of publicly financied stadiums that came to the same conclusion as the Cato Institute. It is nothing but corporate welfare and there is no net gain for the community with the costs of the taxes to build the stadiums and the upkeep of the team.

The argument that supports love to bring up is that small businesses get money from people going to the games ect. But the reality is they do not make enough net profit from the game goers to offset the overall increase of the tax burden that has been increased. AND stadiums are notoriously single focused now days (see Safeco or Qwest Field). Those facilities are not treated as public property (as they should be since they are publicly financed) but treated as private property for the teams.

I certianly support publicly financed projects (school, rapid transit, public libraries ect) IF they are truely for the PUBLIC good AND PUBLIC use. NOT overpaid steroid using athletes who kill dogs, beat their wives ect.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | July 20, 2007 11:42 AM
6

Just GO already! No more welfare for multimillionaire pigs, or their drug-addled gangsters running around in underwear. Go. Now.

Posted by Topeka Pigfuckers | July 20, 2007 12:06 PM
7

Yeah just go, I love hoops, but we should not subsidize owners and besides I dont get a break in ticket prices, but let me watch at least one season with Durant and Green. Did yall see him in Vegas?. He will be the real deal. He is a man amongst boys. He can pimp Gilbert Arenas blind folded.

There is no future for sports here. Seattle is a city made up of out of towners, of dudes that never made the varsity team ( no offense.) of middle class Midwesterners and suburbanites who recent the working class ethos.. Iíve met 3 people that are from here and have working class attitudes. Most of us arel from somewhere else, its like NYC without a good hip hop station. There will not be support for basketball here, unless is for a woman's team for some corny political correct reason. Though for the record, I think Lauren Jackson has incredible inside moves and she reminds me of a chick version of Kevin McHale, even the way she runs up the court with her head down and the way she sets up under the post and asks for the pass with her right hand. She does have a softer touch than Mc Hale. But other than that the Storm is Boooooring!! Unlike the chick team from Detroit coached by Bill Lambieer and Rick Mahorn. Those broads can Ball!! Its like they cloned Cynthia Cooper and made a team in Mo town a city that does have a working class attitude towards hoops.

Posted by SeMe | July 20, 2007 12:30 PM
8

oops. resent.

Posted by SeMe | July 20, 2007 12:31 PM
9

if you don't provide pro sports circuses for the lumpen proles then they'll have nothing to do but start dog fighting rings.

Posted by maxsolomon | July 20, 2007 12:34 PM
10

lol. Come on man, not all of us are like Michael Vick.

Besides Washington state has a thriving underground cock fighting scene.

Posted by SeMe | July 20, 2007 12:37 PM
11

Those new owners bank rolled homophobic legislation in the state legislature THIS SESSION. They clearly do NOT represent the values of Seattle. I am very opposed to the city of Seattle subsizing a company that does not support gays and lesbians. That is contrary to city policy and a slap in the face to the good citizens of Seattle.

Posted by No to Discrimination | July 20, 2007 12:53 PM
12

I say we tell them to give us the Storm and they can walk away from their 2010 lease, or pay up.

No other deals.

Bye!

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 20, 2007 1:23 PM
13

nobody is addressing the whole reason that josh posted. which is: kevin durant. basketball fans across the city--and there are plenty of us, believe me--can't help but feel as if durant could perhaps lift this tanking franchise up by the sneaker laces, elevating the sonics from sub-par to super. sure, the economics of keeping the sonics in seattle just don't compute. sometimes, though, you just can't help but get excited about the team.

Posted by niche | July 20, 2007 1:32 PM
14

Forget Durant, Sam Presti is gonna lead the Sonics to the top. This guy is pulling Billy Beane type moves.

And 2.9 million a year ain't shit.

Posted by cliff rancho | July 20, 2007 1:47 PM
15

durant & green just makes the divorce hurt that much more.

stern needs to step in & stop this BS.

Posted by maxsolomon | July 20, 2007 2:14 PM
16

Seattle's not a sports town (@7)? Then why are the Seahawks and Mariners among the more successful franchises in their respective leagues? And the Sonics were as popular as either when they were managed halfway competently. Save the team, whether it's by getting the NBA to say they can't move or whether it's paying another 0.01% tax on rental cars and restaurant food (not a big deal).

Posted by Sam Perkins | July 20, 2007 2:33 PM
17

@16 - sure, if it's a ticket tax on Sonics and Storm only.

Otherwise, no dice.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 20, 2007 3:09 PM
18

@16

No, its not. Most of the fans that fill up the stadiums and arenas are from out of town. King County is still a sports working class county, but Sea town is no longer that.

Notice how packed the freeways are on game days before the game-people coming in- and after the games-people leaving town.

When the Hawks made it to the super bowl you hardly saw anybody wearing Hawks gear in Seattle- go to Kent and everybody was. Huge blocks of voters here are out of towners and thatís a fact, they donít really care about sports period.

The Mís still draw a good chunk of Sea town folks, but for the most part is out of town people. You donít see the same in cities like Philly where the core fans are in the city proper, though thatís changing too with more out of towners moving into Philly in the last 10 years.

The working class folks that once lived in Columbia city, Freemont, Central Area, Wallingford and other neighborhood have cashed in on the housing market and moved out, replaced by out of towners who now call Seattle home. And they vote.

Posted by SeMe | July 20, 2007 3:39 PM
19

Notice how packed the freeways are on game days before the game-people coming in- and after the games-people leaving town

The population of the city of Seattle is small compared to the metro area population. So why should this be surprising?

And Philly is just a bigger city than Seattle, while the stadiums are the same size (roughly). So logically there would be more people from Philly proper in their stadium than from Seattle proper in ours.

Posted by pitchblende | July 20, 2007 7:28 PM
20

I'm with Josh. KD changes everything. I hate the Freakhawks, but I paid for them (I think, I don't know, maybe I didn't), so let's extend the expiring Hawk Tax and spread it around to a sport that deserves it.

Unless they decide that Durant's nickname is really going to be K-Smoove. If that happens, then they can go.

Posted by croydonfacelift | July 20, 2007 10:02 PM
21

Why does a sports team have to be economically in the black? It's part of living in a city. I've been to the SeattleArtMuseum once in my 20 years in Seattle. I support the things that make a city great like having a great library or the SAM. Yes, there is private funds for these things from the ruling elite (white folks), but to lose the Sonics and the Storm is short-sided. You can see a great NBA game for $10 people.

Other thoughts...
-People are often using coded racist language (thugs, etc...) to describe the athletes. Come on Seattle liberals we can do better.
-Bennett is a two-faced bastard, homophobe.
-Durrant is going to be a transcendent player.
-Seattle is a bad sports town.
-The NBA referee scandal is a HUGE story which will have a lasting impact on basketball and other sports.

Posted by ckw | July 23, 2007 1:39 AM
22

debt rate consolidation

Posted by consolidation omaha debt | July 30, 2007 9:30 PM
23

debt rate consolidation

Posted by consolidation omaha debt | July 30, 2007 9:30 PM

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