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Friday, April 4, 2008

If the Sonics Leave

posted by on April 4 at 11:20 AM

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.

RSS icon Comments


I completely agree.

Posted by Matthew | April 4, 2008 11:30 AM

This city should definitely be proud our pols finally had some balls on an issue like this. I think we are leading what will become a national trend - saying no to public funding of pro-sports. This is why Stern and the NBA have spent so much time threatening and fighting for the money. They know their financial model is broken, and without subsidies the NBA will have to do what the NHL did - take a 24% accross the board pay cut for all salaries. Stern and the players don't want this of course, they'd rather have money taken from important public projects and funneled to their already buldging pockets. It's pretty discusting, and even many of the players are speaking out against it.

We could start taking the position of Austin, where they are proud they haven't played the stupid financially imprudent game of pro-sports subsidies and instead invested in local music which has returned huge financial and cultural benefits to the city. Seattle should do the same - but instead the city spends billions on sports (and not just professional but also k-12 and University sports which is equally as disgusting) while spending city resources harassing the music scene and doing everything it can to shut it down. Time to get our priorities straight.

Posted by Meinert | April 4, 2008 11:37 AM

I prefer -

"we aren't *National* Socialists. We should not be giving hundreds of millions in handouts to *corporate interests,* while we have to maintain our schools, build transportation, fight crime, and maintain our infrastructure for the public.

Posted by LH | April 4, 2008 11:39 AM

I think the recession will further help to end the willingness of cities to play along with the pro-sports subsidies scam.

And I agree that it's sad that we won't have the Sonics around, but it's time to put an end to this enabling relationship.

Posted by flamingbanjo | April 4, 2008 11:40 AM


Posted by Peter F | April 4, 2008 11:50 AM

Josh- we do have basketball teams here. They're called the Storm... and the Huskies (both men and women).

I'll go to those games any day of the week over a bunch of way overpaid daisies and their demand for subsidies (agreeing with @3)

Posted by Dave Coffman | April 4, 2008 12:08 PM

I also agree,

I think this is going to come back to bite David Stern and the NBA. This entire scenario proves that a hand job to the commissioner has more influence that history, tradition, demographics or even economic sense for the entire league.

Look at Charlotte. The NBA soured the relationship with the city so much that they moved them to New Orleans, then the next year gave them an expansion franchise. Even though Charlotte is not an big enough market to support an NBA team. OKC is smaller than than both Seattle and Charlotte. So the taxpayers are going to build a stadium that they can't fill, so fans will get gauged at the ticket and concession lines for a crappy team (rebuilding anyway).

What should every other NBA team make of that? Any owner can sell out any team to any city and the NBA will make it happen.

David Stern is complete ass.

Posted by GDC | April 4, 2008 12:17 PM

Well said.

Posted by Cale | April 4, 2008 12:19 PM


You are right, I am glad the Storm are staying. Which also confirms how big an ass Stern and Bennett are. Why split the franchise, unless they have no respect for the WNBA.

Old. White. Men.

Posted by GDC | April 4, 2008 12:22 PM

I would be cool with the Rat City Rollergirls bouting at the key instead.

Posted by neo-realist | April 4, 2008 1:00 PM

Completely agree Josh.

Posted by Dougsf | April 4, 2008 1:13 PM


I think we should do a headstone over a coffin of the Sonics with a giant Seattle Space Needle stake driven thru their heart and a waving flag pennant that says "Not with our Tax Dollars, Billionaires!"

Is that clear enough for them?

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 4, 2008 1:14 PM

good point, josh. it is, unfortunately, more difficult to take a stand when it may only serve to benefit others. it's be great if we called the bluff, and ok wasn't willing to subsidize either. i guess that will happen for some other city some other day.

Posted by infrequent | April 4, 2008 1:26 PM

@6 The Cougars have a basketball team. Calling the Husky Men a basketball team is a real stretch.

Posted by Clint | April 4, 2008 2:01 PM

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