You know what the whole are-the-Sacramento-Kings-moving-to-Seattle-or-aren’t-they situation was missing until now? A good lawsuit!
Joined in the lawsuit by two other Seattle residents, Mark Baerwaldt of Citizens For More Important Things contends a “memorandum of understanding,” signed by the city, King County and the arena investor group, is illegal and has asked a county judge to nullify the agreement…
Describing the stadium project as a “giveaway” of public funds, attorney Cleveland Stockmeyer contended the city would be acquiring land from stadium developers at far above the fair price. Such a move, Stockmeyer continued, violates city regulations on such matters.
I’ll admit to being puzzled over exactly what the lawsuit is claiming here, since my understanding is that Chris Hansen is giving the arena land to the city for free — unless the complainants are claiming that the public money being fronted for arena construction is in exchange for the land, which would be, let’s say, a novel legal argument. The suit also claims that the deal violates Initiative 91 by not generating a positive return on the public’s investment — it has a better case there, but given that I-91 wasn’t written to take into account deals like the one Hansen is proposing, it still doesn’t seem likely that this violates the letter of the law. (Disclosure: I am not now and never have been a Washington state judge.)
In any case, the lawsuit will serve to even further muddy the waters of this already beyond-muddy intercity NBA franchise smackdown, at least for the immediate future. Did I mention the bizarre open letter in Grantland from Sonics fans to Kings fans (saying, in effect, “We feel your pain, but maybe one day you can steal a new team of your own too!”) and subsequent response by SB Nation’s Kings blogger (saying, in effect, “You can have our team when you pry it from our cold, dead fingers”)? Right now everybody seems to be eager to say that the enemy isn’t other fans, it’s those damn NBA owners who steal teams from them, but it looks like there’s going to be plenty of hate — and no doubt, lawsuits — to go around for everybody before this is all over.