One of the biggest reasons is our conference, but also earlier in the interview he mentions how so many bubble teams have been struggling. There just aren't many teams that we would fall past, even IF we lose out! Makes you feel like it's really going to be a wild tournament this year (but can't you say that every year?).
On the Sonics front, things are hopping. It looks like Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is a big name in the potential new ownership group trying to save the team. And today's P-I profiles the story with native son Matt Griffin as well as an update on the deal. And on the same KJR theme, Mitch Levy gives a rant and a breakdown of the Key Arena situation.
This is beyond crucial for the hopes of pro hoops in Seattle. The current local plan is a slam-dunk. If you haven't read up on it, here's the details:
- $300 million renovation for the Key.
- $150 million would be from purely private investors. These same private investors would either buy the Sonics from the current owner, or they would attempt to buy a franchise in trouble in another city (New Orleans?).
- $75 million would come from a facility fee, naming rights, etc at Key Arena. One scenario floated by Brian Robinson at Save Our Sonics says that it would be roughly a $5 facility fee on a ticket.
- $75 million would then come from the state taxes, the existing stadium taxes being extended. In other words, there wouldn't be a need for ANY NEW TAXES, merely an extension. And some extra money created from the existing tax could go to other causes like low income housing, etc.
And finally, this deal would pay off the outstanding Key Arena debt from the last time they did their half-assed renovation. Even the anti-stadium guys, Nic Licata and Chris Van Dyke, are quoted as being potentially IN FAVOR of this kind of a plan!
You just hope that the legislature realizes what is being handed to them. This is the ultimate bailout for them. This is an offer that very likely won't be there in the future as well. And they must do something, quickly, before the NBA Board of Governors meet in late April to vote on the Sonics move. The Oklahoma vote for their $120 million arena upgrade passed with flying colors on Tuesday, so the board could have an easy "yes" vote knowing an upgraded building will be waiting for them in OKC.
I urge any of you, if you care about the future of pro sports in Seattle, to simply send a quick 2-or-3 sentence e-mail to the governor and house speaker. You can do that with this link. Just quickly tell them you are a voter, and you are in support of them going with this plan. That's it. They must hear from as many people as possible in order to enhance the sense of urgency. Don't let them off the hook, blowing a fantastic deal in the process!
Last item of the day - Tony Bennett. Jim Moore goes through a quick rundown of Tony being a candidate at Anywhere U, for all the obvious reasons. Moore also weighs in on the idea of why Bennett won't say he's interested, and gets some comments from Lorenzo Romar as to why he would say what he's saying (or isn't saying?). WSU Hoops founder Jeff Nusser gave his own view of the situation, and it's somewhat out-of-the-box from what you might think? But I guess the thing I take from it is what Sterk said at the end of the article:
"One year ago this month, Sterk extended Bennett's contract through 2014 and gave him a raise to an average salary of $800,000.
"He asked for seven years," Sterk said Wednesday. "He wanted to build this. It's not like I have blinders on. I feel good about him and where he wants to be and what he's doing."
Sterk said there has been "no contact with him or me or anyone" from Indiana. He also pointed out that Mark Few is everyone's annual candidate to leave Gonzaga, but he's still in Spokane. And in spite of courtships from other suitors, he expects Bennett to stay in Pullman."