Friday, March 07, 2008

Sonics New Mission...Impossible?

It's now out there for full consumption - there is new local money that is burning the hole in the pocket of Steve Ballmer, among other big players, to not only buy the Sonics but give $150 million dollars towards a massive Key Arena renovation. You've seen all the particulars so I'll spare you the further details as to why this thing makes so much sense. But the quick, official breakdown is $150 million from the new ownership group, $75 million from the city that is all but guaranteed at this point, but the sticking point is the last $75 million to come from the stadium tax that's already in place. The plan has been to retire the stadium taxes for the M's by 2012, as it was doing so well it was set to finish 4 years ahead of the original 2016 date. This group is simply asking the state to not retire the tax early, in 2012, but instead let it run it's course as it was originally designed. They would take $75 million of it for the Key, but anything left over in that time period would go to other causes, however the state saw fit.

Seems like a home run. But the resistance looks like this thing is going to be a long-shot to come through.

So far we've had house speaker Frank Chopp cowering in the corner, so unsure of what to say or do that he's actually deferred his comments to his mouthpiece named Jeff Morris from Anacortes. Morris threw cold water on the idea yesterday, saying that it's far too late in the session and that he doesn't see much support for something being introduced so late in the process. Meanwhile, the governor's spokesperson says hey, great. But we're not going to commit to anything for this session and it's unlikely a special session will be called after next week.

Finally, the ultimate fly in the ointment, crap-with-feet-Bennett. The word is he's still partying from Tuesday night's election victory in OKC and is dying to bring "his" Sonics "home". Last night, Bennett's office wouldn't comment, and the NBA flatly said "Mr. Bennett has stated the team is not for sale." Maybe it's just part of the dance, and for now he's got to say it. What, did you expect he'd just bend over and pull up his skirt? Of course not.

So, add it all up? There's a lot of opposition here. Maybe it is too much to overcome in such a short time. Or maybe, just maybe, this power group is so used to getting what they want that they don't know how to take no for an answer?

I mean think about the players in this - Steve Ballmer, the friggin' CEO OF MICROSOFT, the most successful software company in the world. Ballmer's net worth is $15 BILLION. To put that in proper context, he is only about $1 billion behind Paul Allen. That number would easily place Ballmer as the #2 richest owner in pro sports behind only Allen. Even further, everyone brags about Bennett's wealth and his group has billions. Yet Ballmer's net worth is FIVE TIMES that of Bennett's entire ownership clan.

And don't forget the political power of Slade Gorton. He's been talking to the NBA since December about this possibility. He's been in the middle of so many successful things in Seattle and oh yeah, he's going to help defend the city in court in June for the Sonics lawsuit. Remember, Gorton is responsible for the M's, saving them TWICE - once by suing MLB and getting the M's in '77, and then again helping the sale to Nintendo of America and also playing peacemaker between the M's and the state over Safeco Field in '95 - and of course the Seahawks, who actually moved to Anaheim before he got involved with Paul Allen, and ultimately Qwest Field!

I guess the real question for the state to answer is, well, OK, this thing is being unveiled late in the session. It's not ideal because of the timing. But what is the alternative? What if they play politics and throw out resistance-type quotes, and hem and haw about there's not enough time? Well, if that happens and they let this thing go, then the NBA board of governors has a choice to make next month. They have the OKC situation sorted out with their latest upgrade to Ford Center. Then they look at Seattle and see a state legislature opposed to a silver-platter style offer for the arena? That this state can't even bring themselves to consider letting a stadium tax run it's course?? There wouldn't be any public vote on this thing. The usual anti-stadium suspects have already weighed in, saying they are in favor of this plan. They have one of the top-30 richest human beings on the planet with 6.5 billion people as a potential owner of the team, and is a major force in the pacific NW. And the state is thinking of saying no??

If they say no, it's simple - the NBA board will vote to allow the relocation if this thing isn't approved and Seattle has nothing on the table. This deal evaporates in the wind and will never come back. The Sonics court case will play out, and the city will ultimately win. But that will only delay the inevitable. Oh, there will be other, lesser plans floated by the state next legislative session, but it won't matter. It won't come close to what is on the table. As every second goes by, the Sonics are closer to OKC. And then, after the 2009 - 2010 season, the team is gone. The city not only loses a big part of it's culture, but is then stuck with an outdated arena that has debt still unpaid from the last time the renovation happened. And, yes, they lose their major tenant for at least 41 nights from November - April, the dreariest time of the year to exist in Seattle.

We'll see how it plays out, but this next week is going to be a potential roller-coaster. If you've ever wondered if you should contact the powers-that-be, this is the time.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nothing is impossible.

The real problem here is that we basically live in a country run by idiots - politicians who could not pass a freshman-level logic class, or a critical-thinking philosophy class - and some of the reaction to the event today only reinforces that sad fact.

Example 1: the legislator who said “they (the Sonics) do this every time - they show up at the last minute and expect results.”

Dear Idiot: the “Sonics” did not show up today. There was not a single representative from the team present at today’s event, nor was anyone from the Sonics in any way, shape, or form responsible for any of the content of the proposal.

Example 2: the legislator who said “given the questionable nature of their (the Sonics) past proposals, there’s no way we can even get a vote to bring this to the floor.”

Dear Idiot #2: This discussion is about a new proposal - the substance or nature of any prior proposal made in recent years is completely irrelevant to this discussion. This discussion is all about here and now. Can you think here and now? Can your little pea brain process something - anything - that is right in front of you here and now, or do you need time to *prepare* before you can think?

Miscellaneous Idiots: “We shouldn’t or can’t or won’t do anything about this until next year because…our little pea brains aren’t ready to think yet. Plus it’s almost time for recess. And after recess we need more time to start thinking about the thoughts we might think in between now and next year - we can’t just start thinking about something right now!”

Hey Idiots: How have you managed to survive this long on planet Earth? How do you get out of bed in the morning? Does someone feed you, or can you feed yourself? How did you even get that job anyway? Did you ever have to take - and pass - a thinking class of any kind? Do you drive to work, or just sleep in your office so you don’t have to go outside? Exactly how long does it take to read a proposal/plan, ask the appropriate and necessary questions for clarity, THINK, and then make a clear decision? Is a day long enough? A week? Several weeks? A few months? A year? How much time do you need to THINK? Do you know how to think?

Yeah, I guess you could say I’m a little tired of the idiots running this country and this state. Someone just offered to give the community $150 million now - and probably another $350 million later - to solve a problem in the community, and our elected idiots can’t figure out what to THINK about all this.

UNBELIEVABLE.

AtlantaCoug said...

I think I am in love with Anonymous.

I have no idea what it takes to get something decided in the State legislature. My knowledge of legislative process begins and ends with the 'I am a Bill' Song from School House Rock. But hearing the rhetoric about "no time" to listen to new bill seems crazy. They call special sessions all the time. it is their job. It would be one thing listen to bill and then vote NO. But to not listen at all to something like this is nuts.

Anonymous said...

I love you too atlanta.

The time is too short argument is a complete and utter lie. Did you know the Rose Garden was passed in Oregon in 7 hours? It was introduced at 8 AM and passed by 4 PM. And that was a far more complex deal that this, including new taxes. This deal is simply to leave the stadium tax alone and ignore the idea that it would be retired early. That is all there is too it.

"Sedihawk" said it best. This is by far the best deal they will ever get out of this mess. If they are too deep in CYA mode due to an election year to not realize this, it's a sad commentary on our weak-ass leadership. It is a silver platter and a bail out of key arena. It will end up costing more tax money in the future, impacting a hell of a lot more people outside of King County, to do something with it vs. taking a great deal. Save the building, save the franchise.

Anonymous said...

I just heard Brian Robinson of Save our Sonics on KISW 99.9. He said that the tone with the Governor has already changed, even since last night's papers, and her office is now saying they she is going to support this and work hard with the new group to get it done.

Robinson also said that the inside word right now is that 30% in the legislature say there isn't a chance this will happen by next week; 30% are already saying that it's 50/50, and finally, 30% are saying that it's a done deal already and they going to let it play out into next week, then pass it. Oh yeah, 30-30-30 isn't 100%. He said "the other 10% have their heads so far in the clouds that they are voting Ralph Nader!" :)

Sedihawk said...

Back to the Cougs. Did you know that UW hasn't beaten WSU in hoops since February 2005? Think of this:

Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson were newly-signed free agents and hadn't had an at-bat yet as Mariners.

The Seahawks a few weeks before had just lost a heartbreaking 27-20 playoff game to the Rams at home. Yes, this is before their great SB run!

The Sonics were still owned by Howard Schultz.

Carolina and Illinois were 1-2 in the rankings and on a collision course for the NCAA title.

GW Bush was barely beginning his second term in the oval office.

As to the game itself, Brandon Roy was coming off the bench for UW. He wasn't even a starter yet.

WSU started Chris Schlatter, Jeff Varem, Robbie Cowgill, Derrek Low and Thomas Kelati. Josh Akognon and Chris Henry were the first couple of guys off the bench. But this skinny young reserve named Kyle Weaver led the team with 15 points and 8 boards!

Woody said...

I can't encourage everyone enough to email or call Governor Gregoire, House Speaker Frank Chopp, your local Representatives and Senator and encourage them to consider this Stadium Authority Taxing Measure this session!
I know many of you probably already have done this, but if you have not.

When you do email, for goodness sakes no BLOG TALK! Idiot #1, idiot #2, pea brain material is fine and dandy for a college football blog but would be counterproductive for this matter.

I also know the contact info has been posted before, but if you are just tuning in.

You can find the Governor and Speaker's addresses at Mitch in the Mornings page at the KJR AM Website:
http://www.kjram.com/pages/Mitch_in_the_Morning.html

JUST AS IMPORTANT send a message to your local representatives and Senator. Often times the major players here all the noise from people. The politicians from Spokane, Yakima, Omak, or Colville are left thinking that their constituents don't care about these things that happen on the Coast.

You can find out who your local reps are at:

http://www.leg.wa.gov/legislature

Click on the "Find Your District" tab on the home page and you can figure out the rest.

Act Now, work later!

BTW: GO COUGS!

Woody

AtlantaCoug said...

Latest Bracket predictions

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/bracketology

He is guessing a #7 seed. Lowest I have seen. But I know if we beat the Fuskies and win a game or two in the Pac-10 tourney that will change.

Woody said...

I like Lunardi, but you have to take his analysis with a grain of salt sometimes.

On Wednesday he was on record as saying the Cougs were no lower than a #6. They didn't even play and he lowers his predictions to a #7 and in Omaha?
If he is correct today, I can't imagine them going up to a #6 with back to back loses (which won't happen anyways) So, he was either playing to the crowd on the radio Wednesday or was way off.

Let's not leave it up to interpretation and speculation. Hoe the boys take care of biz tomorrow and make a run in the Pac-10 tourney. Get a good seed and draw in the dance and then it is wide open from there

GO COUGS!

Woody

kaddy said...

#3 in the Pac-10 should get a better seed than 7, but we'll see. If they play in Omaha, however, I'm there.

AtlantaCoug said...

SLOOOOW day at the office. 4th post of the day. One point that Lunardi said is that the Cougs struggle against the best teams on our schedule. Basically, we have no wins agains anyone in RPI top 25. And we had 4 chances at UCLA and Stanford..and came up bupkis. Need a signature win in Pac-10 tourney. And if we are in Omaha, I will be there too. But hoping for Birmingham! 2 hour drive.

wsuhoops said...

Here is the core of the note I sent to Gov. Gregoire, Rep. Chopp, and my local senator and representatives here in the Wenatchee area. Doing my part from the east side.

If you haven't yet written your legislators, feel free to use any or all of this letter.

"I'm writing you today to ask you to please throw your full political weight behind this latest Sonics proposal. I know we live in a part of the state where our residents don't always get to watch professional basketball in person, but this team is a valuable part of this region.

"Additionally, it would be absolutely foolish of the state's leadership to let this opportunity pass. No longer could we blame the loss of our team on Clay Bennett and his cronies -- we'd only be able to blame ourselves.

"I know the session is over soon, but it can be done. Have a can-do attitude, rather than a can't-do attitude. Please, please, figure out a way to make this happen. It's what our state leadership has been asking for all along -- no additional public funds from the state other than those already allocated for stadium projects. There is nothing about this deal that is bad.

"The time to step up is now."

-- Nuss

Sedihawk said...

That is kind of weird that Lunardi would drop us to 7, just like that. But I bet his entire bracket will fluctuate over hte next week+ as upsets start to come down. But Kaddy, yeah, if we are undisputed 3rd place in what is widely regarded as the best conference this year, then we'll get the 6.

Sonics - EXCELLENT! Love to see Woody and Nuss rallying to the cause. I wrote Gregoire, Chopp, and called the hotline last night. And I heard that the governor's office was flooded with calls today. I had my wife try and call but she got an "all circuits are busy". KEEP CALLING DAMN IT!

That said, I've got some new optimism. I talked to someone today that, well, let's just say he knows a few people. His Dad especially. Anyway, he said that he heard this afternoon that the screws are being tightened down there "as we speak", and there is some real strong-arming going on. Slade Gorton has more influence than anyone and people are literally terrified of "skeletor". There is already some backpeddling/waffling going on, and an article will be in the P-I tomorrow that the governor is going to push this thing hard all of a sudden, and that there IS still time in this session.

The thing he said was "don't forget who is in this potential group. You really think these state reps want to piss off the CEO's of MS and Costco?! Just watch the waffling that is about to go down."

He also brought up something I hadn't heard yet, but the Allen-Ballmer connection. The NBA is scared stiff of losing Paul Allen's billions and love having him in the boys club. Deep down the league is thrilled with the very idea of having Allen and Ballmer in the league at the same time. Allen and Ballmer would be 1-2 as far as richest owners in pro sports, and there's only about 1 billion between them.

Bottom line, the time is NOW.