Cue the Bucks-to-Seattle rumors in three, two… oh wait, they’ve already started

Yesterday morning in my weekly appearance on KUCI in Irvine (Have I mentioned lately that I talk stadiums on KUCI every Tuesday morning at 8 am? Or that you can listen live here? Well, I have now), host Heather McCoy asked me what I thought the NBA’s ruling that the Sacramento Kings won’t move to Seattle would mean for the Milwaukee Bucks‘ arena campaign. I answered that I would be very surprised if someone, somewhere wasn’t already writing a “Now will the Bucks move to Seattle if they can’t get a new arena?” column.

And sure enough, five hours later:

The news that a group from Seattle has failed — for now — in its effort to lure the NBA’s Sacramento Kings raises the stakes for Milwaukee leaders hoping to retain the Milwaukee Bucks, Mayor Tom Barrett told The Business Journal Tuesday…

“We need to be pro-active and get the Bucks to stay here,” Barrett told me.

There actually aren’t any quotes from Barrett saying that the Bucks might move to Seattle, making it appear that Milwaukee Business Journal reporter Rich Kirchen simply asked the mayor, “Does this mean we really really have to build an arena now?” and the mayor responded with the expected “You betcha.” Which is pretty much what he’s been saying all along, but it makes for a cheap blog post, even there’s no actual news in it.

In any event, this helps make clear why Bucks owner Herb Kohl, for one, might want to vote against moving the Kings. Maintaining Seattle as a bogeyman promises to make him very, very rich. Sorry, I mean richer.

42 comments on “Cue the Bucks-to-Seattle rumors in three, two… oh wait, they’ve already started

  1. Maybe Tom Barrett will channel his inner KJ and find it within himself to offer Herb Kohl Milwaukee’s parking revenues to build an arena that will make Milwaukee a world class city. Does Milwaukee have a Carmichael Dave?

  2. A bearded guy living out of an RV who follows basketball like a religion ? Yeah, Mikwaukee has those. Maybe not as many internet broadcasters.

    The problem is Kohl’s just not rich enough to chip in big for an arena and he lucked out with the Bradley family (which is probably less than amused that they still wanted to sell naming rights and the NHL dream never materialized). I’m actually a bit disappointed with the ‘sconies at some of the “wants” that are listed here though…
    parking connected directly to the arena. More high roller clubs.

    I thought the midwesterners were less bedazzled by such things, but maybe the ones who will drop $200+ on a ticket to the Bucks are a different sort.

  3. The midwesterners do like the bad arena deals- Minneapolis is a good example. And Milwaukee’s old County Stadium was a pioneer in the publicly financed ballpark and before that, Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium. We in California were doing so well (i.e. LA not having an NFL team) before the 49ers and the Kings got themselves on the dole.

    The other question I have about Milwaukee is why would a former US Senator threaten to move a team out of the state that elected him?

  4. Yeah, well, hold on. The Kings relocation may not be as dead as has been reported (and reported, and reported…).

    Now the BOG is struggling to find reasons to reject Hansen, and they’re not finding any. When you compare his PSA with Ranadive’s P… Wait, Ranadive doesn’t have a PSA.

    A Hansen-owned Kings team in Sac for one season?

    Hansen’s tactic here it to not back out of his deal. He’s going to force a BOG vote, and as I’ve said, “Show your work.” Because there really isn’t a good reason to reject Hansen as an owner.

    The Maloofs will contemplate Ranadive’s proposed PSA for about 30 minutes, then reject it. Hansen ain’t backin’ off.

    What would happen if the Maloofs entered into an agreement today to sell Sleep Train Arena to Hansen?

  5. I was asked by a coworker yesterday about what I thought about the Kings situation. My response: “As we have seen for the last couple of years, this story seems to continue when everyone thinks its over.”

    But I’m sure everybody in the NBA is thinking how they respond to however this shakes itself out. Because, yes, we could be talking about the Milwaukee Ranadives soon.

  6. Doesn’t the city already have the Sleep Train Arena as a securitized asset ? Do they also own it for property tax purposes, etc like most stadiums ?

  7. “Now the BOG is struggling to find reasons to reject Hansen, and they’re not finding any.”

    Source, MikeM?

  8. Source, NeilD:

    Yeah, they already own it as a securitized asset, but there are rules about paying that debt off early.

  9. @ Mike – The NBA’s already seen that movie before (Bennett’s ownership of the Seattle SuperSonics prior to the move), and they’re not up for a sequel. There is no way the NBA will allow the sale to Hansen and keep the team in Sacramento – because they know he will intentionally drive the team into the ground and come back to them and ask for relocation.

    Whether or not the NBA returns to Seattle in the next decade is now pretty much in Hansen’s hands. If he accepts this outcome gracefully, he will have a much smoother road toward either expansion or the next team coming available (latest rumblings are now the Timberwolves looking for a seller). If he keeps up his Verruca Salt approach that he’s got now, the NBA BOG is going to continue to blackball him until he stops trying so hard. For details on how that works, Google the name “Larry Ellison.”

  10. If you are very sincere in stating your intentions, have the means to pull it off, are passionate about what you do, put 3 years of effort into it, and throw $120M around to prove you’re serious… Your odds go down.

    Pretty damned lame.

  11. MikeM: There’s nothing in that article saying that the BOG is struggling to find reasons to reject Hansen. Unless you take Mike McCann’s speculation and twist it very, very hard.

    SCT: I couldn’t have said it better myself. In fact, I didn’t say it better myself:

  12. Well, the other sign is implied, Neil. They rejected the application to move, but stayed silent on the recommendation to sell. They’re still thinking that one over.

    I don’t see Hansen walking away from this deal. He’s going to force a vote. That’s where McCann is spot-on.

  13. And I don’t thing Stern helps himself when he refers to Hansen as a perfect prototype of an NBA owner.

    All the signs are there: The NBA is seriously hedging here.

  14. From the Seattle Times (
    “Under the terms of the deal with the city of Seattle and King County, Hansen has until Dec. 3, 2017, to secure a team.”

    It seems that Seattle could be the bogeyman for at least a few more years.

  15. What the Maloofs decide to do in the coming days will give us a good idea where this story is going. Don’t be surprised if Maloof Sports and Entertainment brings you your 2013-14 Sacramento Kings

  16. Neil, this is probably a better source to bolster my previous comments.

  17. I’m not sure that supports the notion that the NBA can’t reject Hansen as an owner, but it does set up a decent face-saving strategy for all concerned: Let Hansen buy the team, and if the arena doesn’t happen, then he can move it like he wanted to all along. I.e., the Clay Bennett Maneuver.

  18. The problem here, of course, is that unlike Bennett, Hansen has already said he wants to move the team. So it’d be a pretty transparent sham for him to say he was keeping the team in Sacramento — not to mention what would he do if KJ called his bluff and actually got an arena built?

  19. Neil, do you really think Stern and the NBA thought an ownership group made up of Aubrey McClendon did not intend to move the team to play in Chesapeake Energy Arena when they bought the team?

    People on this site say the league doesn’t want another Oklahoma City Arena on their hands but why not? Maybe the NBA wants Hansen to look like the bad guy, this way they don’t lose fans…and maybe more importantly, the threat of moving a team to Sacramento.

  20. Well, if the relocation committee keeps unanimously rejecting a move to Seattle, what choice would Hansen have?

  21. Also, Neil, I think there is some obligation on the part of the BOG to explain why some ownership candidate has been rejected. They should say, “Best interests of basketball BECAUSE…”, and not just stop at “Best interests of basketball. Period.”

    Now that Stern has called Hansen and Ballmer “perfect prototypes”, it almost seems like they’ve set themselves up to approve them as owners.

    And I don’t buy the expansion argument. Expansion isn’t going to happen for a long time. They have an opportunity to turn a welfare recipient into a taxpayer. That has to figure into the equation somewhere.

  22. I have been wondering about that. Is there really a requirement that the NBA must “show its work”? What requires the NBA to do so? I can’t think of a reason that the NBA has to give an account to anyone as to why it chose to disapprove a team sale.

  23. The Maloofs say there is no acceptable deal possible with Sacramento. Your 2013-14 Sacramento Kings brought to you by Microsoft-starring Chris Hansen as Clay Bennett:

  24. If Chris Hansen keeps the Kings in Sacramento, all I ask from him is to keep the Jimboy’s Taco stands at the arena.

  25. How long would it take Hansen to say, “Wow, those term sheets suck. Looks like we have to move the team.”

  26. MikeM, Hansen could just pull out his notes and/or PowerPoint slides regarding the Sacramento term sheet from a few weeks ago.

  27. It’s really hard to sell to a group that’s been trying to undercut you from the start. Especially to a group whose political and media supporters have bashed you every step of the way and have not matched the offer in the first place.

  28. “Also, Neil, I think there is some obligation on the part of the BOG to explain why some ownership candidate has been rejected. They should say, ‘Best interests of basketball BECAUSE…’, and not just stop at ‘Best interests of basketball. Period.\'”

    As I told my son last night when he complained that the opposing catcher was whistling to distract him when he was trying to bat: It’s obnoxious and annoying, but there’s no rule against it.

  29. Are Clay Bennett and Chris Hansen the same guy?

  30. Well, if whistling was an antitrust violation or broke tort law, then yeah.

    They’re not really comparable.

    As an aside: When are you going to rename your website SacramentoFieldOfSchemes?

  31. KCRA, in many ways a more professional news outlet than our local paper, should get points for the Carmichael Dave quote. Maybe this is a way to get Hansen and Ballmer a franchise, placate the Maloofs, and pull a Jeff Loria type move. Give Jeff Loria the Expos, MLB buys the Expos, Jeff Loria buys the Marlins a few years later. Here, give Hansen/Ballmer the Kings, Hansen/Ballmer hold onto the Kings, Seattle get’s an expansion team, Hansen/Ballmer get’s said expansion team, and someone else keeps the team in Sacramento. We might be seeing the sausage come together here.

  32. How about this: I’ll license you the name SacramentoFieldOfSchemes, and you can run your own site. Just don’t try to sell it without my permission.

  33. Jason: If a radio station that runs the subhed “Reuters cities unnamed source about strategy shift” is more professional than the Bee, Sacramento is in even bigger trouble than I thought.

  34. As MikeM and others have pointed out here, the Bee’s coverage on this has been problematic. They have cheerleaded this arena deal for most of the last few years, have done little scrutiny of the term sheet and other statistics put out by the pro-arena people, they have questioned the political motives of a city councilmember that opposed the arena deal from day one but never asked about those of arena supporters, and they’ve never disclosed how they will benefit financially if the Kings stay in town. KCRA broke the sale to Seattle story pretty early in January. Like many a local newspaper, the Bee carries water for the local business establishment while trying to look tough by taking on public employee unions. They are basically centrist Democrats- the “very serious people” mocked by Paul Krugman.

  35. I’m not defending the Bee. I honestly just wanted to point and laugh at KCRA’s horrific typo.

  36. Likewise, I have noticed that King5’s coverage of this issue is vastly superior to the Time’s coverage.

    By the way, the Seattle Times is 49% owned by the McClatchy corporation. That explains so much.

    What the Bee consistently ignores is the value of the 2,700 donated parking spots, plus the donated digital signs. That’s over $70M that the Bee isn’t accounting for. Our contribution is actually closer to $330M. I just think it’s irresponsible journalism to not include these as part of the city’s contribution — because it clearly is.

  37. Neil, I didn’t think you were defending the Bee. I thought it was a good time to review the list of ways their coverage has been insufficient. But you have a point, if KCRA (who I would argue the TV news station of record in this town) has a “horrific typo” on a key story, our city is in trouble when it comes to media. On the bright side, we have a fairly strong alternative newspaper, some great bloggers, and tons of well-educated people in this town who work in and around government who could spot the BS from elected officials and other high-level bureaucrats from a mile away. But sometimes we as citizens could be a little too careful in our criticism, as Sacramento is a small town in which everybody seems to know each other and I can’t go too far.

  38. jhande: You are correct, Sir. There is no reason why the NBA has to say anything other than “this is the decision we have reached”.

    There is no entitlement to NBA ownership, nor to the existence/creation of the Seattle Supersonics.

  39. Mike:

    You sound as certain over a “Hansen victory” as you were that the Kings would be playing in Anaheim this season. Remind me how that worked out?

    Stern is saying that Hansen/Ballmer would be great owners because they will be (not ‘would be’ either). Just not now, and likely not of the Kings. You may be right about expansion being a long way off. Having said that, if someone is offering $500m for a no hope franchise, I’m not sure the NBA will have the moral courage to refuse the money.

    If you are the NBA, why would you leave a staggering subsidy (which will turn a ‘welfare’ franchise, in your words, into a ‘payer’) in Sacramento on the table to take a potentially smaller one in Seattle when, like Hugh Hefner, you can have both?

    By the way, when arguing about legal points… please keep in mind that David Stern is a fully capable lawyer in his own right… and that the NBA has on retainer one of the leading firms in North America.