Politics If the Sonics Leave
posted by April 4 at 11:20 AMon
I’ve been following this forever, and in my head, I’d be happy if the sentiment of the legislature and the voters—no giant subsidies for the Sonics—sticks.
But emotionally, I’d be bummed. I like having a basketball team here. I bought some $16 seats last week, and we had a great time at the game. (I go to about two games a year, always have a great time, and having a team in town makes following the NBA—which I love to do—less of a non sequitur.)
So, there’s really only one thing that will tilt the scales and make it worthwhile for the mayor and the legislature to stick by their principles on this (which is going to get increasingly difficult for Mayor Nickels et al as the reality of losing the Sonics starts to create public heartache).
The one thing is this: Nickels and Seattle get national press—The New York Times, Good Morning America, the cover of Sports Illustrated, Drudge—for challenging the NBA’s disgusting business model, which extracts hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidies to pay exorbitant salaries and build yuppie entertainment centers that actually suck business out the community (duplicating business that already exists rather than creating new business).
The model is backwards and someone needs to tell the emperor (the cocky NBA) that it has no clothes. (Or at least that their baggy shorts look moronic.) Seattle’s gambit will only be worthwhile if the logic of it—cities should not be bailing out a failing private entertainment industry—is duly noted. Nationally noted.
Memo to Team Nickels: If and when the Sonics go to Oklahoma, do a proactive national media campaign to spin it as a major victory for good government. Seattle sets an example— the one American city that told a $3 billion industry to stop the blackmail.
And emphasis on “American.” We are not socialists. We should not be giving hundreds of millions in handouts, while we have to maintain our schools, build transportation, fight crime, and maintain our infrastructure for the public. Spin that.