Ever since the Seattle Sonics abandoned KeyArena for Oklahoma City, the old venue has been … doing really, really well, actually, according to the people who run it:
The arena is now quite profitable, thank you — much more so than in the days of the Sonics, to the surprise of many who saw an uncertain future for the sports venue after the team’s departure in 2009.
The Lower Queen Anne facility has gone from losing money in the Sonics’ final years to turning more than $1.2 million in profit for Seattle last year.
The trick? Instead of having to set dates aside for the Sonics, the arena is booking more concerts, which actually pay rent. Hmm, where have we heard this before?
It certainly helps that KeyArena’s construction debt is paid off, with the help of the Sonics owners paying off a chunk of it as part of their deal to skip town. Still, this is a good reminder that sports teams aren’t quite the economic anchors they pretend to be, and maybe a good sign that KeyArena could coexist with a new building if one is ever built to bring back the NBA to—
Ironically, if the NBA ever returned to Seattle, likely in a new arena, the Sonics’ old home would suffer. Another reason KeyArena has remained sustainable is because it hasn’t had to compete with another arena.
Forget I said anything. Seattle, be very happy you only have one arena, and one pro basketball team.