Phil Caldwell

Sports Blogging With a Grin

Seattle and the message sent by the NBA

with 53 comments


Two years ago the NBA sent every city in America a message.

The NBA allowed the hijacking of the beloved Seattle Sonics and their 41-year history to Oklahoma City.

You would think that with this much time passed, fan anger and the hatred for the parties that did this might have mellowed. But if anything anger has intensified with most Sonic fans insisting they are finished with the NBA and all that it stands for.

Forever.

Efforts to promote the rival Trailblazers have been met with empty stares and apathy, with fans feeling insulted once again by the league that simply does not, nor has ever, liked or understood the city of Seattle.

Fans still detest the names of David Stern, Clay Bennett and Howard Shultz—more so today than ever. And yet there is nothing that will cause more pain in Seattle than their former team reaching the finals without them. It would be the colossal  “turning the knife” in the hearts of suffering Sonic fans.

There were many that felt this whole ordeal had more to do with the hated commissioner sending a message to other cities for daring to not hand over taxpayer money than it did Seattle’s support for their team. Seattle had paid their penance and funded over a billion dollars for new stadiums, starting with a new Key Arena in 1994, Safeco Field in 1995, and Qwest Field in 1998.

Commissioner David Stern insists Seattle ignored needs of the NBA Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Surely that would be enough to secure team commitments for at least a half-century.

But just over a decade later, commissioner David Stern publicly pouted that ”Seattle funded two new stadiums but not one for the NBA.”

Sniffle.

More than any other statement, that one infuriated the state of Washington—from the lowly tax payer clear up to the legislature fighting this battle with the NBA. It was a blatant lie. He knew it and we knew it, but sadly the rest of the country did not.

How had things deteriorated to this level so quickly?

A mere eight years earlier Seattle had basked with pride over the brand new sparkling arena they handed over to the Sonics in 1994. Stern himself gloated one evening to a local reporter about the sight lines and the state-of-the-art facility.

A decade later he was whining about the building, calling it dilapidated and not adequate for our league. He claimed Seattle had cold-shouldered the NBA’s needs and built arenas for the other two leagues while ignoring the NBA. Thus a larger and more expensive venue needed to be built.

Seattle's Nate McMillan during 1996 NBA finals at Key Arena Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Seattle felt betrayed.

Especially when those in favor of spending taxpayer funds in the first place were still paying for it politically, fighting off opponent’s arguments who insisted the money had been inappropriately donated to arrogant unappreciative billionaires.

In fact, the opposition had been so riled up over what happened in the 1990s with taxpayer money that they persuaded Seattle voters to pass measures decreeing no more funds would ever be spent on these kinds of ventures.

Seattle’s leadership argued David Stern’s claims were outrageous and insulting fabrications because the only remaining parts of the original 1962 Seattle Colosseum were four rafters and part of the upper bowl. The rest of the arena had been completely rebuilt from the ground up with a then-staggering $75 million price tag, paid for with taxpayer money that opponents howled should have gone to more important things like schools and roads.

Since Seattle had done their part—and since that had cost some politicians their jobs—fans assumed Commissioner Stern would honor the community sacrifice by ensuring the team stayed where it originated. But less than a decade later here he was with team owners, demanding a new arena again while rolling out legal language maneuvering that would have made Bill Clinton proud.

“Seattle is not supporting their team” he claimed, “the arena is woefully inadequate for NBA standards.” And worse was that frustrated, yet devoted fans of the Sonics were helpless to stop the injustice, especially with a wide-eyed Oklahoma City willing to donate the farm to attract the team.

David Stern, the one person who fans felt responsible for supervising and stopping league shenanigans, was gleefully part of the scam, and this suggested league cronyism at its worst.

The entire Puget Sound community felt back-stabbed and cheated. It was like a young family who saved for years to make a $10,000 deposit on a new house only to have the builder take the money and leave town.

Seattle had met the demands of an obscenely wealthy league and paid millions against their better judgment, but those who signed the deal to get that investment took the money and left, taunting the community as they did so.

Last year the very same David Stern, cornered in Las Vegas for a scant two-minute interview after crossing the path of a Seattle newspaper columnist in an airport, once again grumbled that ”the footprint of Key Arena isn’t big enough.”

It was an argument often heard during the breakup that never made any sense to the average fan.

The only reason to demand a larger footprint would be to allow a hockey arena under the basketball court. Why, Sonic fans wondered, would the NBA demand a hockey arena be under their basketball floor? The argument was particularly absurd since previous Sonic owner Barry Ackerley had demanded Key Arena be built specifically so that no NHL team could ever be hosted by the facility.Since the NBA demands the profits from stores and restaurants and parking, even if another professional team shares the arena, how could this possibly benefit the community?

Sonics vs Lakers during final season in Seattle Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

But more importantly is the very real and disturbing fact that the lease signed in 1994 in Seattle to get Key Arena funded in the first place,  was tossed aside by the NBA the minute other teams managed to negotiate better deals from other cities!

David Stern was determined to use the Seattle situation to teach other cities a lesson, and he did!

“If you resist NBA cash demands, cities, we will move your franchise, and we’re not concerned with how much history your team has in your community.”

Or to put it otherwise:  “Cities are suckers to trust professional sports leagues!”

Especially this one.

Don’t assume wealthy team owners will honor the deals they sign!

Leases that you thought meant long-term security for  your team ……… mean no such thing to franchise owners!  Not when smooth-talking lawyers can break those leases!

You want proof?  Look at what happened in Seattle!

Nice message David.  Funny how victories eventually come back to haunt you!

This article can also been seen posted in BleacherReport at:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/483219-seattle-and-the-message-sent-by-the-nba-by-banning-key-arena

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53 Responses

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  1. ” And yet there is nothing that will cause more pain in Seattle than their former team reaching the finals…. ”

    I agree with that statement. But I also agree with a statement/theory that I heard from a host on a national radio sportstalk show during the playoffs back in April: we’ll probably never see a small market NBA team (and he mentioned the Thunder specifically as an example!!) in the Finals, let alone win the title, because it would be a ratings nightmare. He predicted that Stern would rather pay off the referees to call nonexistent fouls and make sure that the team he wanted would end up in the Finals than to see THAT happen!! I, for one (because I hate Bennett and his dishonest bus. partners), hope so!!

    Alan

    September 23, 2010 at 9:54 am

  2. It almost seems like Stern is actually trying to deteriorate society. So what if we want better roads and schools? Do we have to sacrifice one for the other? Apparently we do because our arena doesn’t meet whatever standards Stern arbitrarily sets. I hope (not really but a little) that other cities who give in to his bullying suffer the other societal repercussions of overspending/ignoring other important needs in their cities to meet whatever extortionist demands Stern is making. I loved watching games at KeyArena, and I don’t have the facts to back it up, but when the Sonics were losing money, they were also a losing team (isn’t that the case with most teams? Isn’t that incentive to win???). I would be willing to bet that they didn’t lose money in the 90’s and if we had them today, with Durant and Westbrook, that the Sonics would once again be a lucrative organization.

    Ryan

    September 23, 2010 at 12:38 pm

  3. great read. as a sonics fan, you really hit our emotions and feelings right on the button. to this day the pain has only gotten worse. especially with the Plunder in the playoffs and hearing stern and the tv announcers gush about what a great crowd they have. (and not to take anything away from their fans…they are great…but so were we.)

    the nba has even tossed out the idea to hold Blazers preseason games in Seattle, but the response was so bitter and the threats of protests and walk outs and anything to embarrass the league were so great, no plan ever even came close to fruition.

    i speak for myself here, not all sonics fans, but i will never, ever support the NBA again. the league is truly dead to me. the only way i could see myself rooting for a new version of the Sonics would be if they were an expansion team. and since the NBA is hemorrhaging cash (due to their terrible business plan and awful product), they can’t take on another team. there’s talks to move memphis or one of the MANY struggling teams to Seattle (teams who had far fewer paid butts in the seats than seattle before stern’s grand larceny, mind you), but why would we root for that scenario? to steal a team from the hearts of fans in another city?

    no thanks. and no thanks to the nba.

    Ryan

    September 23, 2010 at 12:49 pm

  4. The NBA didn’t spend nearly enough time explaining how extensive that remodel to the Seattle Colosseum was. It was huge. It was a complete and total rebuild, and not really a remodel. And now today, I suppose we can all see how bad a decision it was to leave the rafter structure the way it was, but that was part of the deal to get Key Arena built in the first place!

    To most of us, the arena was and is, a HUGE deal and I know I personally felt ……. well I felt mad….. to hear Stern mouthing off about it with Clay Bennett smirking at all of us. It wasn’t even a decade old yet when the wimpering started (remember, it started when Shultz still owned the team!). And secondly, have you been to other arenas? I’d been to United Center in Chicago and the top seats are 200ft above the court. It’s like looking at a court from the top rows at Qwest. The view is horrible. So hearing the NBA now use dopey excuse as justification to move the Sonics, was the one issue that pushed me over the edge. Up to that point I was all for building new stadiums to keep the teams. I think we all hated the Kingdome and recognized it as a bit of a mistake. But not so with Key Arena! That’s when it bacame a empty excuse that nobody was buying.

    So until somebody, anybody, can explain why the “footprint” is such a big deal to David Stern, will any of us ever accept the NBA’s argument about Key Arena? Why would we spend half a $ billion for another venue where the views are terrible? We’ve already been down that road when the Sonics were in the Kingdome. So it’s a bad argument and nobody from the Sonics ever explained it in detail, or at least made any sense when they tried, about how specifically a new arena would generate more income.

    If you remember, during her negotiations with Ackerly in 1993 the Sports Babe let slip “Hey Seattle, you’re getting screwed with this arena deal.” Her angle was that the deliberate downsize of the facility by the Ackerly’s to keep an NHL team from ever wanting in, was absolutely going to come back and bite us. How prophetic were her words now today?

    But this idea that fans have to be sitting another 100ft away from the court in order to be an acceptable size to the NBA has never made sense, and to this day I still don’t think most of us have even begun to accept the argument. If David Stern truely felt that way, he should have brought it up in 1993?!? Not in 2003!

    David Stern hater

    September 23, 2010 at 2:05 pm

  5. Phil,
    I really appreciate your words and point of view on this issue. As a fan I combat the same feelings. We have our issues with the NBA and our relationship will need mending. I would like us to not throw out the baby with the bathwater. All because I have a nasty breakup with my girlfriend does not mean I will never talk to girls again. Same goes for us NBA fans. All b/c Stern and a few so called businessmen have taken a huge dump on the sport we love does not mean we should ignore that sport we loved, Professional Basketball! I’m gonna keep trying to get a team back, come what may. There is value to the community and I think it is an important civic asset.

    To answer your question about the footprint. This is Stern’s way of saying the NBA needs a certain amount of money to be happy. In order to get more money we need OTHER sources of revenue. These other sources are not more butts in seats but rather retail stores. The footprint is for restaurants, stores and team shops. Places you can drop the money needed to support an NBA team. I just wish they would be honest about this fact. They can’t get enough fans to watch that would satisfy the money needs. It is all about everything other than basketball. Yuck… But if the Sonics come back I will be the first one to cheer and go nutz. Join me!! First overpriced beer is on me Phil.

    camp jones

    September 23, 2010 at 2:44 pm

  6. Great little article. Let’s keep the pain fresh so we “never forget”.

    Stern, the real NBA fans are going to rejoice when the lockout occurs and you lose your job!

    Douglas A. Mapes

    September 23, 2010 at 3:53 pm

  7. I hope the NBA locks out.

    David Nelson

    September 23, 2010 at 3:54 pm

  8. Hey, if Stern leaves might we be able to get our beloved team back?? Probably a little too optimistic but I can hope, can’t I?

    Debbie Why

    September 23, 2010 at 3:55 pm

  9. Help me understand…what is so ghetto about the key?

    Andrea Takahashi

    September 23, 2010 at 3:56 pm

  10. The problem with Key Arena is it doesn’t hold enough people to bring in a ridiculous amount of money for the NBA. They don’t care about anything other than money.

    Debbie Why

    September 23, 2010 at 3:57 pm

  11. Debbie, from what I’ve heard (and I heard this from both Lenny Wilkens and Kevin Calabro), there’s pretty much no chance of getting a new team unless one of two things happens first: 1) Key Arena gets a MAJOR overhaul, or 2) an entirely new arena is built somewhere else in the Seattle area. And, of course, either one would have to meet the NBA’s criteria for a suitable arena.

    Alan Kehle

    September 23, 2010 at 3:58 pm

  12. I don’t think the Thunder will ever make it to the Finals anyway (let alone win the title) ’cause it would be a ratings disaster for the league if a small market team such as them did. If necessary, I think David Stern would pay off the refs to insure that.

    Alan Kehle

    September 23, 2010 at 3:59 pm

  13. It doesn’t matter whether that team makes it to the finals or not. The simple fact remains that there shouldn’t be a thunder (intentionally not capitalized) team. Just as there should be a Sonics but there isn’t.

    Debbie Why

    September 23, 2010 at 4:00 pm

  14. ‎…well and the lease the supes had for key arena with the city was a normal lease, where the city gets it’s money back for throwing out all the cash to revamp the thing. but then other teams went and held their cities hostage, got millions for new arenas and sweetheart deals where the teams keeps nearly all revenue generated during games, where as the city of seattle got some of it’s cash back. but fairness is not in the vocab of stern or the nba. i’m shocked they didn’t ask season ticket holders to stand in line so stern and his cronies could turn them upside down and shake them for the extra change that falls out of their pockets.

    Ryan Sifferman

    September 23, 2010 at 4:01 pm

  15. Ryan, that was awesome. What else can I say?

    Debbie Why

    September 23, 2010 at 4:02 pm

  16. The city of Seattle could care less about this whole thing. They are okay with The Storm winning a WNBA title at Key Arena. It appears that Bellevue is gonna step to the plate to get the Arena Deal Done because these penny pinchers in Local government will scoff at ANYTHING NBA related. I recently emailed the Mayor, The City Council, The Governor, King Co. Exec, The Legislature and the only person to respond was Dow. Sad. Unless we vote those tards out of office We will NEVER get an NBA team back in Seattle.

    Sean Soultheinterrogator Danaher

    September 23, 2010 at 4:02 pm

  17. But of course Key Arena is good enough for the WNBA. I mean come on it’s Women’s National Basketball Association after all, key word being Women. Because of this there couldn’t plausibly be as big of a crowd as there would be for the men. Even if they do win.

    Debbie Why

    September 23, 2010 at 4:04 pm

  18. Key Arena is absolutely one of the worst 15K seating arenas in the country hands down. If you’ve ever been to arenas in other cities there is no questioning this. It’s not just the footprint of the building itself …and the NBA had nothing to do with it Phil, it was entirely Barry Ackerley who refused to build it to NHL standards.

    Anyways apart from the building footprint itself the loading facilities and internal infrastructure of the building itself are too small to be able to stage the kind of large touring productions that would normally book at arenas that size around the country which puts it at a competitive disadvantage to every venue in the region with a capacity of 15,000 or more. Key Arena would rank 32nd out of 32 NBA arenas in seating capacity. Successful arenas ie ones that make significant money and are large enough to host NBA teams are roughly double the square footage.

    Remember also it wasn’t just the NBA saying it’s an inadequate venue. The Thunderbirds bailed on it for the same reasons,and the Storm would have too until the City gave them free rent on the space.

    Steve Stearns

    September 23, 2010 at 4:05 pm

  19. the KeyArena upgrade was half-assed. that’s why it became irrelevant so fast. also the evolution of the NBA business model put the Key further behind. the “footprint” is a big deal because the new model is to have lots of shops and restaurants at the arena, sharing their profits with the team so they can afford the increasingly crazy salaries. hopefully the lockout wakes the league up to the fact that it’s an unsustainable model.

    Colin White

    September 23, 2010 at 4:05 pm

  20. Yes @Phil, but was it worth it to lose our team over The Key? Not IMO. I really miss having the Sonics here. That prick Clay Knew that this would be an issue. So that along with the lameduck seasons gave him “Just Cause” to leave. I agree about the Key Arena thing. It was only ten yrs old but now It is only good for concerts and The Storm. We need a new stadium so we can not only get the NBA back but also get an NHL team here as well.

    Sean Soultheinterrogator Danaher

    September 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm

  21. Sean: what I’m wondering though is whether or not Seattle is big enough to sustain 4 professional sports teams? Bring back the NBA first, and it’s 3. Add the NHL as well and it’s 4……………..
    Debbie: as for why the Key is good enough for the WNBA but not good enough for the NBA, I got two words for you: PLAYER SALARIES. Does the highest paid member of the Storm even make half a mil per year? Meanwhile, the last season the Sonics existed Ray Allen alone was making 13 mil per year and several other guys making a few mil a year. It’s easier for the Storm to pay their girls since they make so much less.

    Alan Kehle

    September 23, 2010 at 4:07 pm

  22. ‎@ steve…have you ever been to a bball game at the Key? it’s awesome. the last row of the upper deck is literally right on top of the action. the place was loud, hot, intimidating…unlike most buildings now that are pacified, too spaced out and has the PA announcer telling the crowd what to chant (DEFENSE! like i didn’t know to do that already). you could never say that about any of the massive coliseums they build for the nba now. oh, and it sat over 17K, so i’m not sure where you got your facts.

    and the t-birds moved to be in a smaller arena that was more cozy. so your argument about the Key being too small for a team that draws 5K is asinine. and the Storm wanted to move to U-Dub for the same reason…a smaller venue for intimacy. of course they stayed for cheaper rent. that’s savvy business.

    Ryan Sifferman

    September 23, 2010 at 4:09 pm

  23. Sean, tell me something: “Why would this community, or ANY community, ever trust the NBA to live up the terms of a deal they signed after what they did in this situation? Remember, the city had to sue the NBA to get them to live up to the terms of the lease they signed. So why would we fork out $500 million to these guys, when they just demonstrated that they have no problem breaking leases?

    Fred

    September 23, 2010 at 4:11 pm

  24. amen, phil. a signed contract has about as much worth at NBA headquarters as the toilet paper in the bathroom.

    Ryan Sifferman

    September 23, 2010 at 4:12 pm

  25. Ryan, I’ve been to at least 50 games at the Key since it opened, seen games at the United Center in Chicago, at Pepsi Center in Denver and in Phoenix, Milwaukee and worked for some time booking shows …so yeah, I know what I’m talking about. And the Thunderbirds had been talking to the City about the Key being inadequate for years before they moved, the issues having nothing to do with the size of the venue and everything to do with lease terms and secondary revenues.

    You can put your head in the sand, chant la-la-la and pretend it’s okay, or like the people and promoters who know better, you can accept that it’s not an adequate venue for anything and move on. Have a nice day.

    Steve Stearns

    September 23, 2010 at 4:13 pm

  26. we could have held them to that lease if Nickels hadn’t chickened out. you can’t blame the NBA for our mayor’s lack of balls.

    Colin White

    September 23, 2010 at 4:13 pm

  27. A greater question than the size of the arena, is how to write a deal that obligates the tenants to fulfill the lease?? Do we kidnap their loved ones and hold them hostage? So I would argue that because of what the Sonics did, from here on out every single city negotiating terms the NBA can now point to their default on this lease as a specific reason to NOT do a deal! The business climate has changed, and it’s because the NBA proved once and for all that they cannot be trusted. So that changes everything!

    Michael Crawford

    September 23, 2010 at 4:14 pm

  28. they didn’t default. they were allowed to buy out. because Nickels got freaked out by Bennett’s lawyers’ theatrics. that lease would have stood up in court.

    Colin White

    September 23, 2010 at 4:15 pm

  29. ‎…everything i’d ever read about the birds moving out of key were due to the crappy layout for hockey and the awful sightlines (and i agree…the key sucked for hockey). plus it’s too big for a WHL team, as their VP/GM stated over and over again for the reason for the move. i have a hard time buying that a junior league hockey team, whose players have to be under 20, is asking for secondary revenue like an NBA team, also since that was never stated publicly. but we may just have to agree to disagree here.

    Ryan Sifferman

    September 23, 2010 at 4:16 pm

  30. Colin, the fact that Nickels caved in to pressure is going to be part of his legacy as mayor of Seattle forever. Everybody, let’s not forget the fact that if Nickels hadn’t caved, the outcome would’ve depended on judge Pechman’s decision (which, of course, to this day we still don’t know). Bennett and his buddies would’ve been forced to keep the team here if she had ruled in Seattle’s favor. I think that Bennett’s attorneys suggested a settlement to Nickels ’cause they were extremely nervous that she was going to rule against them and force them to keep the team here.

    Alan Kehle

    September 23, 2010 at 4:17 pm

  31. …and after Nickels effed up this whole thing, he didn’t even make it out of the primaries for mayor…the primaries! he lost before the vote. so nice stamp on his legacy. another thing i haven’t seen mentioned…right after the Plunder got the go-ahead to move to OKC and refurbish the arena with public money, do you remember what happened? the recession! if Nickels had just had the balls to tell these looters off, i highly doubt they would have been able to move as they asked for millions of free dollars when people were losing their jobs, their 401(k)’s, and state governments started losing billions. if we had just held them to the contract they agreed to…who knows.

    Ryan Sifferman

    September 23, 2010 at 4:18 pm

  32. exactly Ryan.

    @phil: really bad basketball? did you see what the thunder did last year? it was just the type of run that would have whipped this fairweather town into a Save our Sonics frenzy.

    Colin White

    September 23, 2010 at 4:20 pm

  33. Phil, you really don’t think that the city of Seattle could’ve recouped a large portion of that debt by suing Bennett and his buddies for what would’ve been a OBVIOUSLY CLEAR breach of contract? It would’ve been a BIG TIME ” open and shut case ” .

    Alan Kehle

    September 23, 2010 at 4:20 pm

  34. Do you think Clay Bennett puts any effort into this team if its still here in Seattle? I’d think they would have deferred all the draft picks to 2011 – 2013, and let the team be terrible up here for a couple more years. They could have continued to build with very high draft picks if the team failed up here. They got good only after they moved. I don’t think that’s an accident.

    Sam Magnus

    September 23, 2010 at 4:21 pm

  35. ‎…but i believe trying to field a loser goes against the nba’s bylaws (although with the clippers you could have fooled me). purposefully tanking just to move a team would have been an embarrassment to all of professional sports, not just the league of criminals known as the nba. it would be an obvious violation of the rules and i there’s no way you can think they would have gotten away with that. i mean it was already obvious what they were doing when they dismantled the team shortly after buying it while selling us a line of crap like “no, we really want to keep the team here. really, we do!” but to take drastic actions like that would have screwed their own pooch, so to speak.

    Ryan Sifferman

    September 23, 2010 at 4:23 pm

  36. I’m not an attorney, but I’m guessing that if Bennett and his buddies HAD broken the lease by moving the team anyway, not only would the city of Seattle have EASILY won a lawsuit against them which would’ve gotten them the money to settle the outstanding debt, but also received damages as well (maybe in the tens of millions)……………. I’m sure you’re right regarding the future draft picks……………. Hey, everybody: does anybody happen to know what caused Kevin Durants insanity? After all, he DID sign a 5 yr. extension with the Thunder!! And just earlier this week I saw an article on MSN about the top ten worst places to live in the U.S. and the initials of one of the top 5 was OKC!!

    Alan Kehle

    September 23, 2010 at 4:24 pm

  37. durant is the anti-lebron. team-first, doesn’t like the constant glare of the spotlight, likes the quiet life…he would have been a good fit in seattle, but it sort of makes sense why he’d want to stay in OKC. plus, is there anyone bigger or more popular than durant in okahoma right now (not including anyone involved with oklahoma or oklahoma state football)? he’s their rock star.

    Ryan Sifferman

    September 23, 2010 at 4:24 pm

  38. Which DOES put him in the spotlight………….. It’s too bad we’re not all discussing this at The Ram or Sport or some other decent sports bar in town!! It would save all of us a lot of time (the conversation would last half as long). lol

    Alan Kehle

    September 23, 2010 at 4:25 pm

  39. ‎…and beer! we could be doing this over beer, like any proper sports debate. but c’mon…i really don’t think being in the spotlight in oklahoma is the same as being in the spotlight in NYC…Chicago…LA…hell, even Denver.

    Ryan Sifferman

    September 23, 2010 at 4:26 pm

  40. I think the fact that the league swapped Vancouver for Memphis and Seattle for Oklahoma City speaks volumns. Its all about which city will give the league a building. I miss the Supes. Two years and it hurts. That’s it. Best. KC

    Kevin Calabro

    September 24, 2010 at 9:01 am

  41. I suppose it does no good to whine about it, but money for a new arena will NOT be coming from the public ever again. And a large part of that is NBA’s own fault in demanding a second new arena be built a scant eight years after they got the original new arena; lying about it, claiming Seattle ignored them when the truth is they were first in line when the construction happened. And then moving the team when they didn’t get their way the second time. Pathetic. They made their own bed on this!

    It’s gotta be private money. Probably in Bellevue somewhere. Think it’ll happen in our lifetimes?

    Kevin Peterman

    September 24, 2010 at 9:03 am

  42. In this business climate with the league on the verge of a lockout I don’t see a building getting done soon. Maye a plan will be set in place with some tentative financing but don’t expect a team to move here in the next couple of years. I agree no public money should be used. Fat cats aren’t thinking about plunking down half a billion for an arena and another half a bil for a team. They’re wondering if there will be a tax cut in November.

    Kevin Colabro

    September 24, 2010 at 9:05 am

  43. ‎@Steve Stearns I’m glad you mentioned Ackerley’s name because thats where it all began! The Seattle media gave him a free pass in one of the factors of letting the Sonics go and people are not looking at the entire picture of where this started! I knew in 1995 that in ten years it was going to be obsolete knowing how business models in sports leagues like the NBA would change! Thats why I don’t listen to our local media often as I used to cause they are not telling you much and giving excuses!

    Patrick Hirang

    September 24, 2010 at 9:07 am

  44. I hope none of you give Starbucks (Howard Schultz) any money. If you do, you should stop, today, right now. And tell your friends to do the same.

    Beckett

    September 24, 2010 at 9:24 am

  45. Kevin: thanks for the feedback!! It’s GREAT to hear your thoughts about this!!………… As for Schultz, I think it’s a shame that he apparently felt too intimidated by the NBA to go forward with a lawsuit against Bennett and his buddies for breach of contract. After all, the now infamous emails between Bennett, Aubrey McClendon and others PROVED that they, from the very beginning, had no intention of trying to keep the team in Seattle like they were contractually obligated to. It looked to me like a clear case of breach of contract and those emails proved it. I’m not an attorney myself, but a few that I know (and also one that’s part of ESPN’s legal dept.)said that they thought that Schultz actually would’ve had a half way decent chance of winning the suit and legally forcing Bennet and his buddies to move the team back to Seattle!! Too bad Howie didn’t have the balls to go through with it!!

    Alan Kehle

    September 24, 2010 at 10:00 am

  46. Nice discussion, here. I gotta agree with Colin about the Key upgrade being half-assed to begin with. The whole thing still makes me sick to my stomach.

    Daren Paul

    September 24, 2010 at 3:26 pm

  47. Hey, Phil; I loved your blog article. Read it the other day and posted it to my page. Great piece.

    Daren Paul

    September 24, 2010 at 3:27 pm

  48. I think the Key Arena issue got sorta lost in all of this and it was a deliberate ploy by Stern & Bennett. Remember when Stern did the press conference in New York in April ‘2008, and made the statement “They did Safeco and Qwest but nothing for the NBA,” it really did mislead most people not from the Seattle area. If any point needs to be pounded home it’s that the NBA got the first stadium in 1994, Seattle prioritized the NBA and did not ignore it, and that Stern and Bennett were bald-faced lying about that issue. That one point bothered me probably more than any other thing about this whole situation, that these two idiots were able to spin it the way they did, to justfy moving the team, without any national reporter calling them on it publicly. The entire time all we heard was “Seattle wouldn’t build us a new arena and we had to play in that old terrible one, because Seattle wouldn’t support the team.”

    It was, and is, complete bs!

    Michael Crawford

    September 24, 2010 at 3:30 pm

  49. ‎…great point phil! i momentarily forgot about that…but now i remember how pissed off that made me! rich liars in america are rarely held accountable. what also makes me angry is how hands-on stern is in sacramento to help the kings get a new arena…but he helped clay pour gasoline on the sonics. its an incredible punch in the gut.

    Ryan Sifferman

    September 24, 2010 at 3:33 pm

  50. The NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB are all money-grubbing hairballs. Something similar happened to Milwaukee years ago when they built their Bradley Center. That building was constructed not only for the Bucks and Marquette basketball, but to attract the NHL. Lloyd Petit pursued an NHL franchise for years and built the Bradley Center to his understanding of NHL ‘specifications’, only to be denied a franchise after it was built; something about being too close to Chicago. Maps were available before construction started…

    James Lynn

    September 30, 2010 at 4:27 pm

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