Sports “It’s Just A Blank Check”
posted by March 26 at 12:32 PMon
Yet another “kiss the Sonics goodbye/I hate NBA commish David Stern” article, this one courtesy of the Associated Press. Sonics owner Clay Bennett put on the dog-and-pony show in OKC yesterday, wooing NBA owners and reps with a show of OKC’s support for an NBA franchise. The usual tripe gets trotted out—dismissive comments about Steve Ballmer’s plans to renovate Key Arena, dismissive comments about the vastly lower marketshare of OKC compared to Seattle, and so on.
But the bludgeoning of misinformation turned from the usual hokey stuff to downright insulting. Take it away, New Jersey Nets owner Lewis Katz (part of an NBA subcommittee mulling the whole OKC deal):
“My hope is that we’ll find a settlement with Seattle that will give them the opportunity to have a replacement team. Seattle should have an NBA team, and I think David [Stern] expressed that in the meetings. We all feel that way. My guess is you haven’t heard the end of the Seattle story.”
Reeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally. Mr. Stern, didn’t you say something about this in November of last year?
“I’d love to find a way to keep the team there,” he said, “because if the team moves, there’s not going to be another team there, not in any conceivable future plan that I could envision, and that would be too bad.”
Let’s not sugarcoat this, guys. We’ve seen the commish and the owner in cahoots all along to get out of town at any price, to solidify the league’s demands for bigger arenas, more suites, more ways to charge fans and fewer costs for the league and its owners. They’ll do whatever it takes—in this case, alienating a top-tier American sports market—to scare other cities into succumbing to Stern’s will when renovation plans come up in the next decade or two. But the notion that Stern needed to be wooed by his Okie-pal Clay Bennett, on top of everything else, is really testing the gag reflex. Thankfully, there appears to be someone in Oklahoma who is noticing the Bennett/NBA tactics that turned our city off, though this bit is strangely buried at the bottom of the AP report:
Former Oklahoma state Rep. Wanda Jo Stapleton voiced concerns to the council that the lease leaves the city in position to pay for any cost overruns on the Ford Center renovations and the construction of an approximately $24 million practice facility funded by the sales tax extension.
“It’s in black and white there that the city will pay for the cost overruns, and there could be tens of millions of dollars in cost overruns because they’ve given the team owners free rein to make any changes, whatever they want, during the entire construction period,” Stapleton said. “It’s just a blank check, that’s all it is.”
The city’s response? They’ll keep their eyes on it. I can’t wait to see how that turns out for OKC.