Stern: Seattle lacks “heart” for subsidies

NBA commissioner David Stern talked with the media yesterday about teams’ new-arena plans, spending most of his time grumping about Seattle voters’ opposition to arena subsidies. “I think it’s fair to say that there was a very sort of proactive anti Seattle Sonics movement,” said Stern, adding that state house speaker Frank Chopp has said the Sonics arena bill “would get out of committee over his strenuous objections, shall we say. So there was no heart whatsoever for assisting the Sonics team.”

Stern went on:

We were in consultation with the team that hired a whole new set of lobbyists and PR consultants and arena consultants, did everything right. We’d love to have found the path that would see them staying. But right now it just seems that either they’ll be there for the duration of their lease or they won’t depending on the outcome of these litigations or some divine inspiration that someone may have with respect to a new arena and a suitable funding for it.

Of course, everyone from Stern to those PR consultants knows what would allow the Sonics to stay: Either cough up the money themselves for a new arena (team owner Clay Bennett was asking that more than $300 million of the $500 million be paid for by the public), or if that’s too rich for their blood, stay put in KeyArena, which was just renovated in 1994. The real issue here is that Bennett wants to keep all luxury suite revenues for himself, rather than using them to pay off arena debt, as is the case at KeyArena – but it’s just so unseemly for a sports commissioner to say, “I’m sorry, but the city ignored our ransom note. And we didn’t even ask for unmarked bills!”

Stern was more upbeat, albeit unspecific, on other arena topics:

  • The Orlando Magic are “busily asking me when they can submit their application for an All Star Game, and I thought it was premature before a shovel went into the ground,” said Stern . “But they’re anxious and they’re poised.”

  • Re: the New Jersey Nets and their planned Brooklyn move: “We got a report on Brooklyn where foundation work necessary to clear the site is in full swing and we’re waiting to the end of certain lawsuits that have been decided in their favor but are subject to appeal, and as the appeal time runs out, that’s likely to accelerate.” (Actually, only one of the two suits filed by Brooklyn arena opponents, challenging the taking of private homes by eminent domain, is on appeal; the other, charging that the state’s environmental review process was insufficient, has yet to be ruled on by a lower court.)

  • For the Sacramento Kings: “There’s a lot going on there. We think we have come up with a notion having to do with the Cal EXPO, California Exposition and Sports Authority, the ability to deal with that, and do something that will be great for the community, require a minimal not require a referendum, and could lead to a path, through a great development that was consistent with the community desires, an arena would rise that would assure the long term presence of the Kings in Sacramento.”

  • In Las Vegas: “The building that’s going on in Las Vegas is incredible. There are still competing sites with different visions. Several expressions of interest, of prospective owners of an NBA franchise in Las Vegas. But it’s still at a very early stage, and the committee is just going to continue to watch the situation, watch the building, talk to people, not make any specific plans nor draw any lines in the sand as to what circumstances there would be, under which we would have a team in Las Vegas.”

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6 comments on “Stern: Seattle lacks “heart” for subsidies

  1. I cant wait to say finalllllllly the nets are back in new york. 2010 is around the corner . I will be going to juniors cheesecake factory more often. Thank you mr .ratner for making this become a reality. You are the second best owner in the new york area .

  2. Um, what did he say about Sacramento?

    I see the words; I’m just not smart enough to parse them.

    “…require a minimal not require a referendum…”

    Okay, slower next time, for the benefit of dolts like me. Thank you.

  3. If a vote of the public is required to authorize spending tax money on an arena project in Sacto.. it will probably fail.

    Thus the opposition to a vote.

  4. We’re now reading today that Sacramento’s projected budged deficit has skyrocketed, due to the real estate crisis. Sacramento real estate is down about 17%, figures to fall more, and this is affecting property tax revenues.

    And in the face of this, Sacramento is supposed to help a billionaire family find a new home?

    Two points here:

    1) If the City decides to guarantee loans to build this, they better allow us to vote on them;

    2) In the face of a deficit, how can you even think of offering loan guarantees? Let’s forget about funding loans; I’m not even talking about funding. With deficits like this, forget funding. That ship has sailed.

    Read more about the deficit here:

  5. “I cant wait to say finalllllllly the nets are back in new york. 2010 is around the corner . I will be going to juniors cheesecake factory more often. Thank you mr .ratner for making this become a reality. You are the second best owner in the new york area .”
    Way to go brooklyn-guy. It’s “Junior’s” not “Junior’s Cheesecake Factory”. Spend a lot of time hanging around the mall out in Jersey?

    As far as Bruce Ratner being the second best owner in the New York area…is that based on ticket prices, quality of product on the field, or ability to extort funds from city government?

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