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February 24, 2006
Spring is in the air, and the thoughts of sports commissioners has turned to shaking down state and local governments for arena boodle:
- NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly (no, not that one) warned the city of Pittsburgh last week that "the time window for the Penguins to get financing on a new arena is short. I believe the city of Pittsburgh deserves to have the Penguins, but the Penguins also need a new building and they've needed a new one for years. ... It needs to resolve itself in the next couple of months, otherwise they're going to have to look at options."
- NBA commissioner David Stern warned the state of Washington yesterday: "Substantial amount of work has been done on the baseball and football fields and I'm here to personally find out whether the same is being considered fairly for the NBA. If not, that's a decision that we can accept, but that we'll have to act on." Just in case anyone didn't get the message, Seattle Sonics (and Starbucks) owner Howard Schultz added: "We want to stay in Seattle. We would think it would be tragic if we had to leave."
The threats were flying so fast and furious that Portland Trail Blazers owner (and Microsoft co-founder) Paul Allen jumped in with a demand for public subsidies of his own, saying accrued debts on the Rose Garden have left his team unable to turn a profit. On the subject of handing over public money to the world's 7th richest man so he can make more profits, Gov. Ted Kulongoski's chief of staff Pat Egan replied: "I don't know what would leave [Allen with] the impression there is an opportunity for broad-scale public financing." Let's see, could it be ... the fact that he just got $300 million worth of it from the state next door?