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March 13, 2009
Oakland forming own damn A's committee
Not to be left out of the fun, the city of Oakland has formed its own committee to discuss a new stadium for the A's, with Mayor Ron Dellums and city council president Jane Brunner writing to MLB commissioner Bud Selig yesterday asking him to appoint a liaison to the new task force, and saying they'll do anything "reasonably possible" to keep the team. You'd think they'd know by now that MLB wants nothing to do with "reasonable."
Typical of Dellums. He talks and talks and talks, but he doesn't actually do anything. Sadly for Oakland his ineptitude doesn't stop with this one issue...
As a Sacramento resident, I truly appreciate the timing of all this. Between what's going on in Oakland, Glendale, AZ, Indy, Dallas and NYC, I have to think no developer wants to take part in the $1.9B Cal Expo Phase I gamble, especially when paying back the Phase I debt relies so heavily on rosy assumptions from Phase II (in 27 years).
That's why the March 10 meeting was moved to March 27, you know; because developers are staying the heck away from projects like Cal Expo Arena.
What the Pacers are doing to Indy should be a crime. They can no longer afford their $15M payment? Isn't there still bond debt for Conseco?
Several teams need to simply go away. Pacers, Coyotes and A's are very high on the list. I think the Kings need to cease to exist, too.
I just cannot imagine the Kings getting a developer for Cal Expo in the current environment. In fact, I can't foresee an environment that would attract a developer to this fiasco. Some developer's going to agree to lose $15M/year so the Maloofs and/or taxpayers don't have to? Really?
If they did, how many years would it take for them to change their minds?
Well I don't think they need to go away. They either need to build their stadiums privately (or nearly privately) or they need to stay put where they are for now and not claim they need new arenas and stadiums when they clearly don't. Kings are a good example. Sure Arco Arena isn't the latest in fancy like Staples Center, but it's also only 20 years old. And is still a very serviceable venue for the team that they still draw decent crowds to despite being the worst team in the NBA right now (and they sell out regularly when they don't suck).
Anyway, looks like the A's have responded to the inept leadership in Oakland.
Gist of it is, Oakland is over. It's a "been there done that" situation.
Actually here's a better version of the link
Dan, I do think it's entirely possible the Kings need to go away completely. They claim they're losing $28M this year, in Arco, and I believe them.
And a new arena helps them how again?
Payments on the existing arena loan can't be very high -- that was $73.7M, 10 years ago. You gotta figure the payments alone on a new arena would be $50M/year, and I think that's lowballing. How high will ticket prices have to be?
The basic problem is that the Kings no longer work in Sac, because of the lack of corporations here. We're the headquarters of State agencies, and I don't see them buying luxury suites.
It worked fine when the average salary was $1M, but at $5.6M, Sacramento can't do it any more. We're a lot like Indy that way.
Send them to Seattle then ;)
God knows Seattle wants their team back and the Sonics never actually did that badly up there.
1) I sincerely doubt the Kings are losing $28m a year in any real way, though that may well be what their tax returns say.
2) Even if there are, it won't continue forever, as a) the Kings won't always be this bad, b) the economy won't always be this bad, and c) if it is, the NBA salary cap will soon plummet, and player salaries will come down.
3) As Dan notes, there are plenty of cities the Kings could move to before taking their ball and go home.
With all this talk about contraction and closing franchises, it's important to remember the difference between a pro sports team and, say, Circuit City: A team isn't just a business, it's a rare ticket to join an exclusive club, one whose membership is strictly controlled by the league. Like a seat on the Supreme Court, it's the kind of thing you don't give up lightly once you have it - especially since, unlike a seat on the Supreme Court, you can sell it to the highest bidder if you don't want it anymore.
We can speculate about franchise relocations all we want. But the fact of the matter is that it is all insane to the average fan who has invested his emotional time to the team and now is left without a team to root for.
I can't imagine what is it like to be a fan of the following: Hartford Whalers, Charlotte Hornets, Quebec Nordiques, Montreal Expos, New Orleans Jazz, Cleveland Browns (the first one), Brooklyn Dodgers, Philadelphia Athletics, Winnipeg Jets, Minneapolis Lakers, Baltimore Colts and any other club that left its original city. The point of the matter is that the city where the team started its existence and began playing OUGHT TO MATTER! Those clubs I mentioned reflected a big part of what those cities wanted to present to the world, so much so that the nicknames reflected that.
I can now say that after 100+ years of comparing the league systems in both North America and Britain/Europe, that the system adopted in Britain/Europe is far superior to the one in use in North America. It is because Congress has allowed certain connected groups to determine who is and is not allowed to enter teams in professional sports that owners can pull the strings of the average fans, threatening to relocate as a way of leveraging expensive new stadia with tickets prices high for less-than-ideal views. I think the time has now come to open the floodgates. Let the Hamilton, Ontarios enter their own teams and compete if they so wish. Let the teams that play better keep their places in the highest level and let those who tank go down to the next level until they improve their performance. I think that sports like basketball and hockey are ripe for this experiment to take place. Territorial rights be damned. Real pro-freedom sports. Real competition. Let the colleges enter their own pro teams if they want as well.
Pro sports are going to have to learn these two words: Open system
Constant relocation threats and actual relocation just aren't sustainable. If people stop investing so much emotional input into these sports teams and start treating them as just another entertainment option then look out!
The British and Europeans do it better! Promotion/relegation. Clubs that are in the given communities for 100+ years. Clubs that are actually...clubs and not franchises, like we have here.
The problem with promotion/relegation in North America is that fans like to know their team has a shot at being number 1. That implies the undispited champion. if Raleigh N.C, Tampa Bay, Phoenix and Long Island cant draw fans for Tier 1 NHL hoc keythey dont stand a hope in heck of doing so while in Tier 2. Several other factors:
1)Marketing $: What if the Pittsburgh Penguins or Cleveland Cavs get relegated to Tier 2, you suddenly have the league's most marketeable players dominating against 'inferior' competition. Season ticket holders that were excited to get to see Lebron James suddenly dont get to. Lebron can have a career season and not be named league MVP? not good.
2)The Draft: The teams that performs the worst gets the best chance to sign the best up and coming player. if you eliminate the draft like in europe, all the teams with money stay on top by giving out blank cheques. The rest flounder in mediocrity. fans give up. Draft Day is also big money for leagues like the NFL,NBA,NHL. Marketeability relates to that as well. it's difficult to get a player to care about a player in an inferior league.
If cities like Raleigh, Phoenix, Atlanta or Tampa want hockey teams that badly, ok, they can have them and hope for the best that they can go the way to the top of the top league. If not, then that's OK as well. Cities that really want hockey teams should have them, not due to some rich businessman who thought that hockey could work in a city like Phoenix and create big profits for him...and then find out that it's not happening for him and then shop it around like it's a dress used in a famous movie to some eager rube who only sees $$$ in front his face and not look at the fine print.
You tell me how it makes sense that Hamilton and Quebec have no professional teams at Tier 1 but Atlanta does? A city like Winnipeg would rally behind the team, win or lose, whether it is Tier 1 or Tier 5. Do you think the basketball Knicks deserve to stay at Tier 1 the way they're playing in the last decade?
Here's another thing: If a team gets demoted to Tier 2, there will be an incentive to work harder to get back to Tier 1 already. All of a sudden, the players who didn't do the job last year will have to work harder to get back to the top level or lose to players who are eager to get a roster spot. No more high-priced mediocre players languishing at last-placed teams because they're out of a job the next year.
Moreover, you may see another phenomenon that has become a rarity in North American sports: communities who would rally behind a team because they know that any likelihood of relocation is slim. The fans in Europe know that when they pay for a ticket they're paying knowing that the team management, ownership, etc., is doing all they can to have the best season possible and be in a position to win the championship. That means being sensitive to what the fans' concerns. Imagine that! A club being concerned for the fans. Not like here, where they act like they're doing people a favor giving people a mediocre experience for high prices. In Europe, there are even teams in what would be the equivalent of a third division where fans not only show up but make lots of noise and light up flares to show their support for the team. Now that is dedication and team spirit!