Field of Schemes
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October 12, 2009

Throw it away and get a new one

Quote of the week, from Seattle hoops blogger M. Haubs in a review of the new documentary Sonicsgate:

Many fans have difficulty accepting that Key Arena is an inadequate venue, given that it's a great place to watch a game and is less than 15 years old in its current incarnation.

These fans are mistaken, continues Haub, because they fail to recognize that Key Arena can't "maximize the varied revenue streams" that newer arenas can offer. Which is true enough as far as it goes — but is "doesn't generate as much profit as the tenant would like" really the new definition of "inadequate"?


neil, i think the posted link is incorrect - it's directing me to a review of the new documentary, "more than a game", which features lebron james and his high school teammates.

here's the correct link to the sonicsgate film:

Posted by pb on October 13, 2009 11:42 AM

Thanks, fixed. Note to all bloggers: Please make sure that your item titles are hotlinked to the page for the item in question. It's really hard to be sure what you're clicking on when you cut/paste a URL from a tiny hash mark way at the bottom of a post...

Posted by Neil on October 13, 2009 11:51 AM

the "maximum revenue stream" is becoming the golden apple that will always be just beyond reach because another franchise sets the mark higher. taxpayers have to say "enough is enough!" to these owners or the death spiral will continue...

Posted by paul w. on October 13, 2009 01:18 PM

Agreed, Paul. Good points.

I am (not so) patiently waiting for the day when an enterprising franchise (probably the Yankees, Red Sox or Cowboys) begins advertising the incredible opportunity for fans to "give in perpetuity" to help the club succeed... "yes, now you can donate your entire estate to the club, proving your love for the team and ensuring our competitiveness for years to come".

Then I guess we'll hear from the smaller market clubs, demanding that their home states pass a law requiring a death surtax to be placed on all estates in order that the playing field may be "levelled" between smaller and bigger markets.

As insane as that may sound, it isn't that much of a step from where we are now. Residents (and their children/grand children) of sparsely populated cities and states are regularly taxed to try and increase the market revenues of private sports businesses to the level of the larger markets.

And, of course, once a low population state - like Tennessee or Minnesota, for example - pushes such subsidies through, the larger states do it as well. Anyone want to guess what happens next?

Bidding against yourself is always a bad idea...

Posted by John Bladen on October 13, 2009 02:40 PM

I may not have chosen my words precisely enough, but I was not trying to make a value judgment one way or another. I don't believe I suggested that the fans were "mistaken"; I did not intend to.

I was just trying to point out that the reality is that Key Arena became one of the hardest buildings in which to generate revenue in the NBA, given the way the landscape shifted, and *even the president of the fan group trying the save the team*, as well as a journalist, conceded that point.

Posted by M. Haubs on October 15, 2009 03:37 PM

Okay, but we're back to my question: Is a building's adequacy as an arena defined by how much money a team owner can make in it? If so, it seems like cities are doomed to be on a never-ending treadmill: Eventually arenas will have to be equipped with bottomless fountains of gold doubloons, because not to do so would be to be "economically obsolete."

I'm reminded of the time a state senator in Minnesota suggested to Carl Pohlad that if the Twins were losing so much money at the Metrodome that they couldn't afford to re-sign Brad Radke, it'd be cheaper for the state just to pay Radke's salary than to build a $400 million stadium. To which Pohlad replied, "Oh, we're not looking for a subsidy."

Posted by Neil on October 15, 2009 06:49 PM

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