In my initial blog post, I think I said something about this blog not having too many words but lots of pitures. Well, this post shows just how much Doug Dawg can be trusted cause this un’s got NO pictures … well, just “word” pictures!
It’s presumptuous of an Oklahoma City guy (especially one who’s never even been to Seattle) to presume to “know” whether Seattle wants to keep its SuperSonics and Storm professional basketball teams. Here’s a poll going on at HornetsCentral.com: http://www.hornetscentral.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3347.
But, I can read!
I’m reading that, on one hand, a group called, “Save Our Sonics and Storm” – see http://saveoursonics.org/ – has been formed in an effort to formulate a local groundswell to keep the teams, but, on the other hand, considerable resistance is locally present not only to discourage but to prohibit further public financing of projects like the Key Arena’s expansion and updating.
A fellow by the name of Chris Van Dyk has led petition drive for what is called “Initiative 91” to be placed on Seattle’s November 2006 ballot. Van Dyk’s group is called, “Citizens for More Important Things” and its website is http://www.citizensformoreimportantthings.com/index.html. The group has a pretty impressive list of supporters – see http://www.citizensformoreimportantthings.com/page5.html. And, here’s the group’s take on the history of the Key Arena – http://www.citizensformoreimportantthings.com/page2.html.
Basically, should the local initiative pass, Seattle voters will be saying “No” to such public financing, and one would suppose that such vote would be tantamount to saying “No” to the opportunity extended by Mr. Bennett’s Oklahoma City group.
In a July 22 article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/278484_initiative22.html, the headline reads, “23,900 sign petition to block KeyArena financing – Group predicts I-91 will qualify for ballot”. A snippet from the article reads,
Van Dyk said members of his group love the Sonics, but they know the city of Seattle will get by if the new owners don’t fork up the money. “We don’t need the Sonics to be a world-class city,” he said. “Oklahoma stockyards might need a little dressing up. We don’t. We’ve got Mount Rainier.”
In another article at “The Stranger”, http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=44535, part of that article reads
There are currently three different deal scenarios on the table, which Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis had offered to the old ownership group last May. The Sonics never formally responded to the offers, Ceis says. Ceis says those deals are still on the table for the Oklahoma ownership group: a $198 million renovation with a $49 million contribution from the team; a $149 million renovation with $37 million from the team (both of those would have to be approved by voters); and a $50 million renovation.
Ceis said flatly he’s not going to “go there” if Bennett’s group tries to play Seattle off Oklahoma. “Nope, we’re not doing that,” Ceis says.
It does appear that Bennett’s group will play that card, though. A spokesman for Chesapeake Energy Corporation, whose CEO is one of the new owners, told the Seattle Times: “The people of Seattle have to make a decision about how important NBA basketball is to them. The people of Oklahoma City really fell in love with NBA basketball. [New Orleans played in Oklahoma City last season after hurricane Katrina displaced them.] There’s a lot of people in Oklahoma that would be excited to have this team in Oklahoma City as well.”
Bennett’s ownership group may be in for a surprise. The public is sick of subsidizing a private business that hasn’t kept its end of the bargain.
Indeed, our current lease is a bum deal for the city because we got stuck paying off the almost $74 million renovation we funded in 1995. Obviously, the Sonics were supposed to pay off the debt. Instead, we’re paying $2.3 million a year (spiking at nearly $3 million last year) on a tab that’s going hit about $130 million by 2014 when debt service is included.
This may explain why the anti-Sonics-subsidy initiative cruised onto the ballot. “We sent a message that Seattle is not a socialist state,” says I-91 co-chair Chris Van Dyk. “People don’t want government subsidizing private business. They know that government doesn’t pay their rents or leases. So why cover a guy who just cashed $50 million in stock options?”
And yet another article, this one at the Seattle Weekly, http://www.seattleweekly.com/news/0630/mossback.php, opines that
Daring to Be Not Great
Letting the Sonics go is just the first step in saving Seattle.
* * *
This fall, Seattleites will likely have a chance to vote on the public financing of sports franchises. It looks like Citizens for More Important Things has enough signatures to get their sports initiative on the ballot. I hope Seattle will take this chance to send a message to the amenity nuts: Unless there are tangible public benefits, such as a share of the profits, you can move your *** to Oklahoma City.
So, it may well be that Seattle lacks community unanimity sufficient to respond affirmatively to the 12 month opportunity offered by Clay Bennett et al.’s Professional Basketball Club LLC.
As an Oklahoma Citian who hasn’t got a Mount Rainier, I’ll (for one) say, “Sure thing! Let’s work on getting our stockyards (well, at least, the Ford Center) all dressed up for the Oklahoma Centennial circa 2007!”
What a fine way this would be to welcome in Oklahoma’s 2nd century!