Thursday, April 23, 2009

Are Coug Fans Sinking Sonics 2.0?

So late yesterday, there was some news on the controversial bill, SB6116. One of the bill's sponsors, senator Ed Murray, declared to the Seattle Times that "the bill is dead". The bill is a wide-reaching piece of legislation designed to allow King County to allocate some existing tax money when it becomes available in the near future, for a renovation of Key Arena, affordable low-income housing, the arts.....and POSSIBLY Husky Stadium. We say possibly, because, well, the bill doesn't actually say "and Husky Stadium". Instead the bill talks about maintenance for other sports "stadiums" in the county. Obviously Husky Stadium would fall into that category, but so does Safeco Field and Qwest Field, two venues that are terrific today, but will also need some work in the years ahead.

But to break it all down, the bill gives King County the ability to decide for themselves if they should funnel some of the tax money to Husky Stadium. If anyone remembers the pain of the M's and Seahawks stadium issues, and how the King County council nearly blew both of those situations, you have to wonder if UW would ever see the money. Or at the very least, it's possible that the County, in total and complete COVER YOUR BEHIND mode, would simply push it to a public vote (much as we saw with the M's and Seahawks). They don't want the ill will from the anti-everything crowd by authorizing tax money for a college stadium in an economy like this.

Anyway, all that out of the way, the bottom line is that the bill looked promising, but now has hit a road block. Why? According to Brian Robinson at Save Our Sonics, they are lining up to blame YOU, Coug fans. Check it out:
This thing passed rules because they had the votes. It got put to the floor waiting for a vote that had already happened behind closed doors like they always do. The straw count had shown that it would pass so they allowed it to be put to vote.

Suddenly we had the worst case scenario. A split caused when eastern district republicans started to feel some pushback from WSU alumni. It wasn’t really that much, but enough to start getting questions asked. When questions got asked people started to wonder “is this worth it?” The momentum that had built stalled.

Then Ed Murray sent his message that it was dead to (Jim) Brunner. To put it really simply he was willing to carry the weight, but he didn’t want to carry it uphill. He said to Brunner clearly “it is dead.”
Let me be clear on one thing - I love the work of Brian Robinson. Nobody has done more for the cause to return the NBA to Seattle than this guy. He's the one who has taken the whole effort on his back, rallied the fans, and tried to do everything he can to point out what a fraud the OKC owners were at the time they were playing their get out of town game. But to then shift gears and try to put the proper pressure on the state to get this thing done is very admirable. And I don't believe he hates the WSU fan. But it sure seems like some of the blame game is starting. And when Cougfan goes out of their way to fight this thing, well, we are the easy targets. Don't say you weren't warned IF this thing doesn't come to fruition.

THAT SAID, even after yesterday, it's really, truly NOT DEAD YET. As Tim Ceis of Seattle said last night, it is still alive, and won't be dead until the entire legislative session shuts down. And even then, it's not truly dead. The settlement with Clay Bennett says that in order for Seattle to receive another $30 million, the city must have approval for funding by 12/31/2009. I'm no expert (CLEARLY), but it is always possible something could happen, like a special session or something, before the end of the year?

Moving on, WSU Nation is still dealing with our own shocker yesterday in that less-than-uplifting chat with Jim Sterk. If you didn't see it, please do yourself a favor and check it out here. Lots of things to be concerned about, but basically a sledgehammer reminder about where we are in the PAC, where we need to go, and most of all, why we are moving the Apple Cup to Qwest. It's the money honey, pure and simple. We don't have much, and we need more if we want to even attempt to level the playing field.

The issue of getting booted from the PAC-10 has many layers. But as one person told me late last night, the thing the conference is looking at with our situation is the gate, season ticket sales, and donations. It's no secret that we are behind the rest of the PAC, but, to see it stated by Jim Sterk himself that we are $14 million in budget...behind the NUMBER NINE team in the conference? That's a lot of ground to make up. And in no uncertain terms, Jim Sterk and the rest at WSU were told several years ago to get going on that stadium expansion to keep their standing in the conference. And if it didn't come together? Well, there COULD be another vote.

It's not like teams get booted from BCS conferences all the time. If anything, the conferences have gone the other way, where they have grown or expanded (BIG 10, BIG 12, SEC, ACC all in the last 10 or so years have changed). But it's not like teams NEVER get kicked out of said BCS conferences. Some quick searching last night found one recent team booted from a BCS conference, in Temple from the Big East.

The reasons for their ouster were many, according to ESPN:

"The Owls were kicked out of the Big East after 13 years for failing to meet minimum requirements for membership, most notably in attendance, facilities and fielding a competitive team.

The Owls were overmatched in the Big East and haven't had a winning record since going 7-4 under Jerry Berndt in 1990. They went 2-9 last season and are 19-60 in seven seasons under coach Bobby Wallace.

Big East teams decided in 2001 that it was no longer worth the automatic win to keep Temple around. The conference gave the Owls a shove out of the nest and told them to look elsewhere.

Even when the Big East was fighting high-profile defections, they never gave Temple another look."

Suddenly the Qwest Field Apple Cup for six years doesn't sound so awful, does it? What I hope here is that Sterk is giving us the full picture. I HOPE this isn't an empty threat to spur donations. When you are trying to recruit high-quality student athletes to your university, and you have your AD going on a chat to say that we are on shaky ground to even stay in the conference? Doesn't exactly help the cause, does it? But for him to go public with this, when everyone is paying attention? It's probably a very real possibility that unless we get our act together, the PAC-10 will give it a serious look.

That's about it for a downer of a Thursday. ENJOY IT, and as always, GO COUGS.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, you never know. With a new commissioner coming to the PAC-10, everything may get a close look, and who knows what he'll be looking for- but he's looking to improve the overall product of PAC-10 athletics.

Anonymous said...

They will spin it every which way, but the Sonics reloaded was doomed in this economic crisis. The state is going to approve a budget that contains 4 billion in cuts. 4 Billion. Anyone who lives in the clouds thinking they were going to allow tax money for stadiums is insane.

BH said...

Hopefully, the legislature will find some way to buy a vowel and a clue at the same time. The Sonics piece is CENTRAL to the redevelopment of Seattle Center. In tough times, building infrastructure for jobs and investment is crucial especially when you think about that Denny Way corridor. When you factor in the potential loss of the Bennett money, then you have even more incentive to try to get something done.

As I have said before, I have not necessarily been opposed to the State using moneys to support the redevelopment of Husky Stadium. But, in this case, two MAJOR issues make the inclusion of Muttlake into this bill totally inappropriate:

1) Muttlake is used 6-7 times a year.

Since their remodel includes eliminating the track, you have a one-trick wonder that will be used all of 2% of the year. Not a good use of money during tight budget times unless Seattle is a part of some emergent proposal for the Olympics...

2) Local money should NOT be used to pay for State-level projects.

The current bill gets "permission" from the state to use local tax revenues for local projects. However, because the UW is a State-level institution, a local tax should not be used to pay for state infrastructure.

Why the hell the sponsors can't scrap the Muttlake part via amendment is beyond me. It happens ALL the time.

Chris '04 said...

Stupid question:

Is a donation to the athletic department tax deductable?

TiltingRight said...


If I recall correctly, 90% of donations to the athletic foundation is tax deductible. I would call and ask, though, as I can't find a link to double-check.

TiltingRight said...

OH! And if you're planning on giving, check with your employer to see if they have a charity matching program. You may double your contribution.

Chris '04 said...

Tilting, thanks for the info!

But I doubt the U of I is willing to match my donation to WSU ;-)

Longball said...

Ah ha! Chris '04 and I have the same employer.

Sedihawk said...

I was just going to say, hey, Chris, do you know our own LONGBALL?!? He just had a b-day by the way, happy b-day Longball.

I hope BH is right (and he probably is). The thing can still go through if they tighten up the language, and specifically state what it is going for, not just "stadiums".

But why it's trying to sneak through like this? Because of all the money at stake. Think about who owns so much of Seattle. Like it or not UW has a lot of wealthy alums, alums who helped get some of these politicians elected. It's slimy but true. And you better believe some of the big money alums are leaning on the ones they helped get elected in the first place! But they aren't dumb, and they know if a standalone UW bill was out there it would redefine the words "epic fail". The only way they get it done, now, is to hop on the causes that actually have some real backing.

We'll see what happens. Still a lot can go down between now and Sunday.

Chris '04 said...

Well I don't remember seeing any "Longball's" (lol, longball's)on my department roster. But I'm guessing he's around here somewhere...

Demetrius said...

Hi! I'm trying to help my son find WSU football stats (wins & losses) for 2007 and 2008 for a math project. Any help?

Coug77 said...

F'em. When the Sonics, M's, and Hawks need the $$, they'll find a way. This is nothing more than a ploy to get everyone on board so UW can get their cash. Let the rich bastards fund it. I don't care what effect it plays on the other sports.

Stiffmiester said...

Maybe we are being short sighted here. We can use this president to increase our possible future revenues with a county generated tax to bring us closer to the number 9 in the conference in money brought in. Sterk put scare of the MAC10 in me. The hateds have to beat out the homeless, the arts and about three other things with the county coucil to get any money for their grand toilet bowl. This is a golden goose that could lay an egg in Pullman

TiltingRight said...


Start here for 2007:

I didn't see any 2008 stats on the official site, so try here for those:

Hooty McBoob said...

The fact that this bill is even being considered right now is an absolute joke and EVERY citizen of this state should be up in arms.

My wife is an extremely dedicated primary teacher and is now one of probably thousands in this state that's worried about getting a pink slip due to massive budget cuts to public education.

How anyone could vote to spend tax dollars on ANY kind of for-profit sport venue right now is absolutely preposterous. WAKE UP WASHINGTONIANS!