A big "NO" to pro basketball in Seattle

Majority-female council votes against helping bring back former Supersonics

In January, Seattle seated a city council with a 5-4 majority of women. Last week, in a 5-4 decision strictly along gender lines, the council nixed a corporate-welfare scheme that might have helped the city bring a pro basketball team back. (Seattle's former team, the Supersonics, moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007–2008 season and were renamed the Thunder.)

As the New York Times said this morning (May 8), "In hundreds of email messages and social media posts, the female council members were attacked by people — practically all apparently men — who said [the female majority] lacked intelligence and an understanding of the importance of sports because they are women."

One writer attacked the women as "ladies" who should "go back to the kitchen." Another invited the ladies to "rot in hell."

The publication fieldofschemes.com, which does an excellent job pointing out the fatuity/stupidity of cities handing out huge subsidies to billionaire sports-team owners, quoted a letter to all five female council members: "I TRULY pray for nothing but horrible things for each of you moving forward. You have made this world a worse place by whoring yourselves out to the highest bidder. Please Please Please do the honorable thing and end yourselves. Each of you are disgraceful pieces of trash that deserve nothing but horrible outcomes."

San Diegans, in fighting the proposal to subsidize the billionaire Spanos family for a new football stadium, must realize that gender will be important. Men seem to think subsidizing billionaire sports owners is macho. Women realize these self-described macho males are, in fact, couch potatoes, and the money should be spent on important matters, such as infrastructure, neighborhoods, libraries, and repairing the pension system.

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Isn't this also about building a new arena? Apparently the Key Arena is not good enough.

Yes, as the current arena was expanded for the Sonics, but it wasn't good enough for them. The threat of a new arena could be used on current NBA and NHL teams as extorsion (similar to the NFL/LA threat) to get the current team's cities to refurbish/replace their current facilities. Also, there are some that claim the NHL might be interested in moving a team to Seattle, but during the Key Arena expansion, many of the lower level seats became unusable for hockey.

aardvark: The two biggest West Coast markets, San Francisco and Los Angeles, won't play the corporate welfare game, refusing to subsidize billionaire team owners. Seattle could fall into that category because thus far it has refused to build an arena that could attract a pro basketball team. However, the football and baseball stadiums were subsidized with public money, although voters didn't always go along.

Next enlightened West Coast market? Pray that it will be San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

Ponzi: Yes, it is about building a new arena. The owner who moved the team to Oklahoma City wanted a new arena. Intelligent citizens of Seattle would have none of it, and that was the excuse the owner gave for moving. He is from Oklahoma.

Seattle is the 15th largest U.S. metro area with 3.7 million population. And there are plenty of rich people there. Oklahoma City is the 42nd largest metro area with 1.3 million people. There might be some big money in Oklahoma City, but a lot of it is oil money, which has shrunk.

In other words, this has an odor of the L.A. Rams moving to St. Louis, a much smaller market. Then when St. Louis wouldn't bestow welfare on the owner, he succeeded in moving the team back to L.A. Best, Don Bauder

Don: Actually, St Louis (and the state of Missouri) was willing to "bestow welfare on the owner", but it wasn't enough to keep the Rams in St Louis. I don't even think the Rams would have stayed in St Louis even if he could have received the same deal the Rams got to move to St Louis originally.

aardvark: Yes, as soon as I wrote the item I realized it was wrong. I posted an item to that effect imediately, but now I can't find it. I don't know what happened to it.

This item explained (as I have before) that St. Louis made a horrible mistake, promising that the stadium for the Rams would be "state of the art" among stadiums. But so many teams built new stadiums that, of course, it was no longer state of the art. That gave the Rams the opening to move. St. Louis and the state of Missouri offered all kinds of plans to build a stadium that would keep the Rams, but Kroenke, Rams owner, was having none of that. Best, Don Bauder

When I lived in Seattle I became a huge Sonics fan. I attended dozens of games and this was when they were in the play-offs. Key Arena is a very nice venue with nice luxury boxes and lot's of parking due to a parking structure built next to it. I cannot understand why the NBA has to have something else built.

By the way, they can have hockey games in the Key Arena. They have hosted them and they host ice shows (like Disney) every year.

Ponzi: The NBA is like the NFL and MLB: they all want new stadiums/arenas even though there is no rational reason for them.

All three of those pro sports have utterly no social conscience: they want government money spent on THEM, even if the cities, states, and counties are financially broke and people are hurting. Best, Don Bauder

Sure, they CAN play hockey there, but the team that was playing there left for another building in the Seattle Metro area. The hockey team hasn't played there since the 2008-09 season. No matter--the city of Seattle got screwed when the Sonics left for OKC.

aardvark: The NBA, NFL ad nauseam are in the business of screwing cities that won't give the billionaire team owners a fat subsidy. Best, Don Bauder

There are so many ways to compare cities: Left/right politics, scholarly/research institutions, weather and beauty, profitable industry, relative investment in culture vs entertainment (sports), etc. We pay lip service to culture in SD and it might improve, but far too much energy, time and money is spent on mindless entertainment. We could learn from Seattle.

It would seem that Seattle could more readily afford the proposed arena than San Diego can even dream of a new football stadium. Yet they said no. I'm no fan of the political climate in Washington, any more than I'm a fan of their miserable, gray, cool and wet climate. But on occasion, a governmental body can get it right. So, will the women stay the course, or will one or two of them "reconsider", and vote the other way?

Visduh: There is always a chance of one or two of the women reconsidering, and going in for sports welfare. But it won't be because they suddenly woke up to the importance of subsidized sports. It will come about because of filthy lucre passing under the table. Best, Don Bauder

swell: Yes, there are many ways to compare cities: population, median household income, culture, weather and beauty. Note that pro sports teams are not on that list. Best, Don Bauder

Maybe Seattle figured having taxpayers fund facilities for the Seahawks, Mariners, and Sounders was enough.

ImJustABill: That's possible. Maybe Seattle is becoming another enlightened city. Best, Don Bauder

maybe the tide is turning as more people realize "sports leagues" are just over priced entertainment the rip off tax payers /

Murphyjunk:I do think more people across the nation are realizing that subsidizing a billionaire's sports team is the height of civic folly. Best, Don Bauder

Will San Diego Taxpayers fall for the Chargers "corporate welfare scheme"?! It appears that the proposed financing for the downtown convadium may be robbing peter to pay paul. San Diego relies heavily on tourism dollars to support its economy. Taking hundreds of millions of dollars out of the tourism budget could be foolish if revenues for tourism fall as a result. Besides, doesn't San Diego have better uses for that money?!

It is instructive that San Francisco voters turned down these schemes for the 49ers many times.

SportsFan0000: Of course San Diego has a better use for that money. There is an infrastructure deficit of billions of dollars. Personnel are departing the police and fire departments. The pension system continues to have problems.

It would be a disgrace if San Diego voted to give the out-of-town Spanos billionaire family what it wants. Best, Don Bauder

Chargers fans and ownership take note: The Golden State Warriors are building a brand new, 100% privately financed arena in San Francisco (and moving from the Oakland Coliseum Arena. A joint venture between Clark Construction Co. and M.A. Mortenson Co. is set to build the Golden State Warriors' $1 billion arena in San Francisco, which also has financing ready to deploy, team co-owner and CEO Joe Lacob said.


The financing and contractor news is the latest in a series of fast breaks for the Warriors, which last week reached an agreement with the city and the University of California, San Francisco, regarding potential traffic problems around the Mission Bay arena.

Plus, on Friday, the franchise formally closed on purchasing the 12-acre development site from Salesforce.com Inc. (NYSE: CRM) for more than $150 million.

The Mortenson/Clark joint venture was picked as the general contractor as long ago as last fall, but the team had not publicly identified the builder until Lacob spoke Monday to the San Francisco Business Times. A Mortenson official on Tuesday referred questions to the Warriors.

The still-undisclosed financier — which Lacob described as a "big, big, big, big financial institution," but not a bank — has been in place for a couple years, he said, and would layer on top of funding provided by a Warriors' ownership group of more than 30 people.

The arena project is entirely privately funded, a rarity in a sports business world where cities and regions subsidize stadiums as an economic development tool or to retain or attract "major league" status. The Warriors' plans would — in theory, at least — be accelerated because there is no direct government and money and the team now controls the site.

"We've not asked the city for one dime," Lacob said, adding that the Warriors paid for city staff time for reviewing an important environmental impact report.

This is the way it should be for private enterprise sports team owners. Finance and Build your own facilities for your own private business/team. If it is such a great deal and of such great economic benefit, then you should not be shy about "putting your own skin in the game" and lining up private investors and financiers to build your project without government interference...

SportsFan0000: You are absolutely right, but what you are talking about is heresy to billionaire sports team owners and the leagues' managements. Their aim is to get as much money out of the taxpayers as possible, even if the government entity (city, county, state) is broke and people are starving. Best, Don Bauder

SportsFan0000: I can see I have to bone up on the Warriors deal in San Francisco. I hope that public money is not going into the infrastructure. The stadium used by the baseballl Giants was built with private money, although taxpayer money went into the infrastructure. Best, Don Bauder

Steve Cramsie: The convadium idea is ridiculous. Not one cent of public money should go to the football stadium. The convention center part of this monstrosity should not be built at all. Convention centers are vastly overbuilt in the U.S. No city should build one or expand one now. The market is so sated that some centers are actually paying to have companies or industries use their centers. This, of course, is just a disgusting subsidization of local hotels. Best, Don Bauder

Mike Murphy: Goodness, yes. All owners of sports teams, and the leagues, strenuously object to an owner paying for it himself. That is considered heresy. Pro sports team billionaires measure each other's competence by the amount of money they squeeze out of their home city. Best, Don Bauder

sounds like they only are pleased if they screw the public, and the public figures out ( after the fact)

San Francisco Bay Area voters are educated, smart, sophisticated. They would not buy the con job by pro team owners asking them to subsidize a private owners business (stadium costs). You may note that 6-8 Stadium subsidy ballot initiatives for various sports have failed in San Francisco and the Bay Area even when the 49ers were winning 5 Super Bowls. Eventually, the 49ers moved to Santa Clara County about 30-40 miles south near San Jose in the heart of Silicon Valley.

At one point, the SF Giants had their moving vans lined up, packed and were ready to pull an Irsay and leave in the middle of the night for Tampa Bay.

Ironically, the former owners of the Oakland A's agreed to give up part of their "shared territory" to the SF Giants contingent on the Giants moving to Santa Clara County. The Oakland A's stepped up and helped save the SF Giants for Northern California. Their reward?! The SF Giants burned the A's. They never moved to Santa Clara County. The ended up building their stadium near the docks in SF city.

However, in a bizarre twist, the SF Giants have been refusing to give up their exclusive rights to Santa Clara County/Silicon Valley (30-40 miles south) or even share the former shared territory with the A's. Subsequent owners of the A's have been held to the A's-Giants deal by MLB Commissioner's Office and that gutless former baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, and the Giants where the A's gave up their "shared part of Santa Clara County" to save the Giants for the Bay Are and received absolutely nothing in return.

Numerous A's Stadium proposals for Santa Clara County (where A's could take advantage some of the richest high tech companies and sponsorships in the country have been continually blocked by the Giants.

The City of San Jose has sued MLB in Federal Court trying to get approval to move the A's there. The A's have rolled out numerous new stadium plans for relocation to Santa Clara County only to be blocked by the Commissioner's office and the Giants at every turn.

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