BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 02/13/2012

Thiel: It’s Stern who owes us an apology

The potential for a sudden return of the NBA should send chills before thrills; the lessons of a relationship gone sour should never be forgotten.

If David Stern wants to cuddle up to Seattle again, he's the one who should be packing flowers. / Getty Images

Even though the Sonics were nearly three years dead in Seattle,  David Stern felt  compelled the past May to dig up the body just to throw it off a nearby ledge.

Meeting with reporters in Sacramento to explain his decision to grant the Kings a one-year stay of execution rather than move the team to Anaheim, the NBA commissioner was asked to explain why he didn’t do the same in Seattle. The Sonics in 2008 not only had two more years remaining on a valid lease with the city, but a pending offer from Steve Ballmer and other wealthies to remodel KeyArena to the latest NBA standards.

“In Seattle, there was a hostility by the mayor (Greg Nickels), who was interested in doing nothing as opposed to the way Mayor (Kevin) Johnson has put himself out on this for the people of Sacramento,” Stern said, referring to the former NBA star-turned-politician. “The Speaker of the House (Frank Chopp) was hostile to the NBA and its players, was not the least bit interested in moving any legislation even that just authorized King County to do what which it might have done to help support the arena.

“To call it night and day, it was an absolutely an incredible difference and it is night and day.”

Now, it seems, the Kings again are staring at their expiration date in Sacramento, at least to according to the breathless reporting from the California capital on the struggle to find public financing for a new arena. Apparently, it is night, too, in Sacramento, even if the mayor is an ex-baller.

Suddenly Seattle has emerged into daylight as a candidate for the relocation of the Kings.  A mysterious hedge fund manager who went to Seattle’s Roosevelt High School is ready with hundreds of millions of dollars to build a privately financed arena, according to Nickels’ successor, Mike McGinn.

Stern, staring at a dead franchise walking shortly after sweating through a lockout to get a new collective bargaining agreement that is supposedly an improvement for owners, now says he is, ahem, open to discussing Seattle again.

Before we get too far along in this rekindling between exes, I’d like to take the liberty of asking something of Stern:

An apology for his comments nine months ago.

His unwarranted, unprovoked diatribe against Seattle completely mis-characterized the local political situation, which approximates the Sacramento situation in that municipal and state governments are flat out of money to help prop up his little hoops operation. Fergawdsakes, Sacramento is proposing to rob its own parking meters to pay for its new arena.

I’m not attempting to defend Nickels and Chopp. They’re big boys capable of doing that themselves. But they were playing with a pair of deuces and had no chance to win the pot.

What I’m offering is the point that Stern, three years after the fact, chose, in front of the people of Sacramento he is about to hose, to again denigrate our politicians without taking a lick of responsibility for the demise of the Sonics. The sequence of events that crippled the franchise began with the 1999 lockout and is yet to be repaired despite another lockout in 2011. Stern’s remarks were demagoguery, pure and simple.

Neither Seattle nor Sacramento deserves such rhetorical dreck.

My friend at the Seattle Times, Steve Kelley, wrote Sunday that Seattle sports fans need to forgive Stern and forget, as if some sort of public capitulation will speed the process. I beg to differ.

It is Stern’s obligation, not Seattle’s, to mend fences for the good of all parties.

But before the point gets muddled with sentiment, let’s also recognize this not a romance. It’s a business deal.

The politicians, business leaders and fans who’ve been through the ugliness of the Howard Schultz sellout and the Clay Bennett duplicity can never lose sight of the fact that Stern and NBA owners are a ruthless business cartel well experienced in manipulating public sports passion to their advantage.

Examples of trap doors, open manholes and exploding cigars that mark the trail of these guys are endless. But for brevity’s sake, let’s use one that contributed to the Sonics’ demise.

In the early 1990s, when the city and the Sonics reached agreement on the Coliseum remodel that became KeyArena, the city agreed to a 20-year schedule of debt payments to retire the construction bonds, but allowed the Sonics to sign a 15-year lease.

How stupid was that?

The five-year difference meant that the city would be stuck if the Sonics left at lease expiration. Roughly speaking, that’s what happened.

Part of the reason Schultz extracted such a sale-price premium from Bennett in 2006 – $350 million — was that the worst that could happen to Bennett was he’d have to spend four years in Seattle, not nine, before moving to Oklahoma City. Instead, he chose to get out after 2008 by suing the city for breach of contract. Even though the city was probably going to win the verdict in the landlord-tenant lawsuit, Nickels caved and took $40 million from Bennett because he didn’t want any risk of having to pay five years of mortgage debt without an anchor tenant.

That’s why Nickels was playing with a pair of deuces. A deal made under pressure from the NBA monopolists in 1993 resulted in a leverage play in 2008 that amounted to civic extortion. That’s how it works in pro sports, and to forgive and forget those lessons and those perps is foolish.

The old Sonics lease is Exhibit A for why all parties in this renewed arousal should keep zippers on lockdown. The urge to pirate the Kings for the next NBA season should take a deep second to getting a clear, smart deal that doesn’t leave the city vulnerable in another 5, 10 or 15 years.

Stern can make traction by recognizing publicly the NBA’s contribution to the Sonics demise. I don’t expect him to apologize for hijacking the Sonics; however ruthless, that was business as it has always been done in pro sports. But he owes some sincere contrition toward city and state leadership who, years after the fact, were being skewered by him for attempting to protect tax money from predation. For Stern to do less only buttresses his image as a demagogue unworthy of trust.

If there is to be a second time around, it has to be done without prevarication, fear, sentiment or haste ruling the day and the deal.

Some of us surely miss the NBA, but to again make the same mistakes with the same guy would be the acme of humiliation, especially when we know what he really thinks of us.


YourThoughts

  • Anonymous

    I totally agree, although I wouldn’t be holding my breath waiting for an apology of any sort from David Stern.  It’s just not in him.
     
    Frankly, if a new arena IS built (and let’s leave the financing to private capital and perhaps a user-fee surcharge on tickets to any event), I’d much rather see the NHL come in and the NBA frozen out of the market, although the NHL has its own dubious history with Seattle, where the Totems were granted a conditional franchise for 1976 that the NHL later reneged on.
     
    People who are pining for the return of the NBA remind me of guys who were unceremoniously dumped by their girlfriend the moment she figured she had a better deal elsewhere, then make fools of themselves trying to win her back instead of realizing they were better off without the girlfriend in the first place.

    • Jim

      To your last point, RadioGuy: Right on. If I can clumsily extend your analogy, this is like the guy who was dumped by his longtime girl because he wouldn’t propose then proposing on the first date with next girl he goes out with (although maybe Mom and Dad helped him buy half the engagement ring). Not this desperate now, are we? I’m not. I can do without pro basketball. And I’d love to see the league feel the pain of contraction.

      I’d personally hold out for a Key re-do, too. Didn’t everybody love Seattle Center and Lower Queen Anne in the mid-90s? Who wants to go to SoDo for every stinkin pro sports event? Seattle Center needs it more than Pioneer Square IMO. The difference is the city has an interest in the Center, and has its hands tied; the property in SoDo is open to the higher bidder. Money talks.

      All that said, I agree with people who think the “Sonics” are gone forever. Even though I think we retained the Sonics name, I don’t want to rename a poached team the Sonics. Seattle Kings, Seattle Grizzly, Seattle Hornets all sound fine to me.

      • Artthiel

        Jim, the Key can’t work anymore. The footprint is too small, and any move to tear down the whole thing would be a political mess because the Key is the only building in pro sports located in what amounts to a civic park. The thousand constituencies who think they have a voice in Seattle Center would cripple the effort to make it into a 23,000-seat nightlife center.

        • Anonymous

          I’ll always remember what the neighborhood around the key was like in the 90′s, but one thing that I think people are missing in this whole discussion about the SoDo arena, is what that area could become. I’ve lived six months out of the year in LA for the past 12 years and have witnessed the revitalization of the downtown LA neighborhood that has happened since the privately funded Staples Center opened with LA Live and the Nokia Theater.  It basically gave LA a bit of a downtown, and the guys that financed it are making money hand over fist.  I realize Seattle isn’t the suburban freeway diaspora that LA is, but I’m sure this mysterious hedge fund white knight isn’t doing this simply because he misses the Sonics, there’s an obvious opportunity here. SoDo is going through a similar transition from industrial to nice (Pioneer Square leaves a lot to be desired if you’re a family going to a game.), and the thought of developing an area with sanitized shopping/drinking/ESPNzone where you’ll get NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB, and MLS traffic is undeniably appealing, and that’s not even taking into account the ramifications of Seattle actually having more viable Super Bowl, All Star Game, Final Four bids.  This is a no-brainer from my perspective, and shouldn’t need public financing. 

          • Grover

            I guess Steve Ballmer just isn’t intelligent enough to understand that, huh?

            Safeco Field was supposed to “revitalize” that area, but it looks just about the same as it did 12 years ago before Safeco Field was built (other than that a new football stadium has replaced the Kingdome).  Although recently a new topless club did open across the street from Safeco Field, so I guess that is a litte bit of revitalization.

            There are a couple of nice, huge parking garages next to the new stadiums, though.  That sort of brightens that area up.

          • Anonymous

            So you’re against private investment that won’t cost you anything into an area because the last public investment didn’t quite work the way the government said it would? I don’t recall that being a selling point to Safeco, I remember keeping the Mariners being the selling point with the added bonus being Pioneer Square not turning into a complete cesspool.  As it turns out, it probably doesn’t make much sense building a restaurant across the street from a stadium in an industrial area only used half the year save 8 Sundays.  So, if you’re pointing out public investment didn’t quite work out, and you’re against private investment, what exactly are you for?  Also, the Ballmer group was trying to do a civic duty and save the Sonics, while they weren’t into it to lose their shorts, I don’t think urban development was high on their priority list.  Judging by the land bought, where it was bought, and how this is progressing, this is definitely a bigger picture urban renewal project. They did it in LA with Staples, they’re doing it in Brooklyn with the Nets and the Barclays Center, and they will soon try to do it in Seattle.  But hey, we fear and mock what we don’t understand, and there’s nothing more fun to point out the fault in a plan that’s only downside is some rich guys get a little less rich. This lack of imagination leads to boondoggles like the Kingdome (the SuperDome was opened a year earlier and has had a bit of a more illustrious history) and KeyArena (obsolete a decade after opening).

          • Grover

            You implied that a private investor building a new arena in the SODO area would make a profit on the arena.

            I am asking you, if it would indeed be profitable, then why didn’t Ballmer do it?

            Then you answered, Ballmer would have lost his shorts building a privately-funded arena.

            So, which is it?  Would a privately-funded arena make profits for the owner?  Or would the owner lose his shorts?

            Make up your mind.

            I think Ballmer already knew the answer to that question.  Are you saying you are smarter than Ballmer?

      • Artthiel

        Jim, the Key can’t work anymore. The footprint is too small, and any move to tear down the whole thing would be a political mess because the Key is the only building in pro sports located in what amounts to a civic park. The thousand constituencies who think they have a voice in Seattle Center would cripple the effort to make it into a 23,000-seat nightlife center.

    • Artthiel

      Yeah, the girlfriend/spouse  analogy pops up a lot. I don’t expect an apology, but I sure as hell hope we don’t keep quiet about the NBA transgressions.  

  • RadioGuy

    I totally agree, although I wouldn’t be holding my breath waiting for an apology of any sort from David Stern.  It’s just not in him.
     
    Frankly, if a new arena IS built (and let’s leave the financing to private capital and perhaps a user-fee surcharge on tickets to any event), I’d much rather see the NHL come in and the NBA frozen out of the market, although the NHL has its own dubious history with Seattle, where the Totems were granted a conditional franchise for 1976 that the NHL later reneged on.
     
    People who are pining for the return of the NBA remind me of guys who were unceremoniously dumped by their girlfriend the moment she figured she had a better deal elsewhere, then make fools of themselves trying to win her back instead of realizing they were better off without the girlfriend in the first place.

    • Jim

      To your last point, RadioGuy: Right on. If I can clumsily extend your analogy, this is like the guy who was dumped by his longtime girl because he wouldn’t propose then proposing on the first date with next girl he goes out with (although maybe Mom and Dad helped him buy half the engagement ring). Not this desperate now, are we? I’m not. I can do without pro basketball. And I’d love to see the league feel the pain of contraction.

      I’d personally hold out for a Key re-do, too. Didn’t everybody love Seattle Center and Lower Queen Anne in the mid-90s? Who wants to go to SoDo for every stinkin pro sports event? Seattle Center needs it more than Pioneer Square IMO. The difference is the city has an interest in the Center, and has its hands tied; the property in SoDo is open to the higher bidder. Money talks.

      All that said, I agree with people who think the “Sonics” are gone forever. Even though I think we retained the Sonics name, I don’t want to rename a poached team the Sonics. Seattle Kings, Seattle Grizzly, Seattle Hornets all sound fine to me.

      • Artthiel

        Jim, the Key can’t work anymore. The footprint is too small, and any move to tear down the whole thing would be a political mess because the Key is the only building in pro sports located in what amounts to a civic park. The thousand constituencies who think they have a voice in Seattle Center would cripple the effort to make it into a 23,000-seat nightlife center.

        • WestCoastBias79

          I’ll always remember what the neighborhood around the key was like in the 90′s, but one thing that I think people are missing in this whole discussion about the SoDo arena, is what that area could become. I’ve lived six months out of the year in LA for the past 12 years and have witnessed the revitalization of the downtown LA neighborhood that has happened since the privately funded Staples Center opened with LA Live and the Nokia Theater.  It basically gave LA a bit of a downtown, and the guys that financed it are making money hand over fist.  I realize Seattle isn’t the suburban freeway diaspora that LA is, but I’m sure this mysterious hedge fund white knight isn’t doing this simply because he misses the Sonics, there’s an obvious opportunity here. SoDo is going through a similar transition from industrial to nice (Pioneer Square leaves a lot to be desired if you’re a family going to a game.), and the thought of developing an area with sanitized shopping/drinking/ESPNzone where you’ll get NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB, and MLS traffic is undeniably appealing, and that’s not even taking into account the ramifications of Seattle actually having more viable Super Bowl, All Star Game, Final Four bids.  This is a no-brainer from my perspective, and shouldn’t need public financing. 

          • Grover

            I guess Steve Ballmer just isn’t intelligent enough to understand that, huh?

            Safeco Field was supposed to “revitalize” that area, but it looks just about the same as it did 12 years ago before Safeco Field was built (other than that a new football stadium has replaced the Kingdome).  Although recently a new topless club did open across the street from Safeco Field, so I guess that is a litte bit of revitalization.

            There are a couple of nice, huge parking garages next to the new stadiums, though.  That sort of brightens that area up.

          • WestCoastBias79

            So you’re against private investment that won’t cost you anything into an area because the last public investment didn’t quite work the way the government said it would? I don’t recall that being a selling point to Safeco, I remember keeping the Mariners being the selling point with the added bonus being Pioneer Square not turning into a complete cesspool.  As it turns out, it probably doesn’t make much sense building a restaurant across the street from a stadium in an industrial area only used half the year save 8 Sundays.  So, if you’re pointing out public investment didn’t quite work out, and you’re against private investment, what exactly are you for?  Also, the Ballmer group was trying to do a civic duty and save the Sonics, while they weren’t into it to lose their shorts, I don’t think urban development was high on their priority list.  Judging by the land bought, where it was bought, and how this is progressing, this is definitely a bigger picture urban renewal project. They did it in LA with Staples, they’re doing it in Brooklyn with the Nets and the Barclays Center, and they will soon try to do it in Seattle.  But hey, we fear and mock what we don’t understand, and there’s nothing more fun to point out the fault in a plan that’s only downside is some rich guys get a little less rich. This lack of imagination leads to boondoggles like the Kingdome (the SuperDome was opened a year earlier and has had a bit of a more illustrious history) and KeyArena (obsolete a decade after opening).

          • Grover

            You implied that a private investor building a new arena in the SODO area would make a profit on the arena.

            I am asking you, if it would indeed be profitable, then why didn’t Ballmer do it?

            Then you answered, Ballmer would have lost his shorts building a privately-funded arena.

            So, which is it?  Would a privately-funded arena make profits for the owner?  Or would the owner lose his shorts?

            Make up your mind.

            I think Ballmer already knew the answer to that question.  Are you saying you are smarter than Ballmer?

    • Artthiel

      Yeah, the girlfriend/spouse  analogy pops up a lot. I don’t expect an apology, but I sure as hell hope we don’t keep quiet about the NBA transgressions.  

  • SUDS

    Thank you for the counterpoint to Steve Kelley’s ridiculous column in yesterdays Times. It almost smacked of toading to Stern just for getting the mere sniff of a franchise — one that Seattle would be stealing away from a city the same way the Sonics were ripped from us. Screw Stern, the NBA and their miserable, failed business plan. Fool me once is all I need to know about the NBA.

    However, I am ready to put a down payment on NHL season tickets…

    • Artthiel

      Suds, my guess is the arena will need rent from both teams to be economically viable, based on the business models in other markets. But it’s up to Stern to take the toxicity out of the relationship.

  • SUDS

    Thank you for the counterpoint to Steve Kelley’s ridiculous column in yesterdays Times. It almost smacked of toading to Stern just for getting the mere sniff of a franchise — one that Seattle would be stealing away from a city the same way the Sonics were ripped from us. Screw Stern, the NBA and their miserable, failed business plan. Fool me once is all I need to know about the NBA.

    However, I am ready to put a down payment on NHL season tickets…

    • Artthiel

      Suds, my guess is the arena will need rent from both teams to be economically viable, based on the business models in other markets. But it’s up to Stern to take the toxicity out of the relationship.

  • Hammtime

    AMEN!!!! Thank you Art! I am disgusted by so many of my fellow seattleites who seem so eager to bend over for Stern and NBA again. I can’t even listen to 710 or 950 anymore because they are so sickening in favor of sucking up to the NBA and Stern. I’m appalled at all these people who have such short memories! NO TO THE NBA!

    • Artthiel

      Obviously, all sports media is invested in more sports activity. But that doesn’t mean we have to disconnect our brains. Let’s hope we’ve learned. 

  • Hammtime

    AMEN!!!! Thank you Art! I am disgusted by so many of my fellow seattleites who seem so eager to bend over for Stern and NBA again. I can’t even listen to 710 or 950 anymore because they are so sickening in favor of sucking up to the NBA and Stern. I’m appalled at all these people who have such short memories! NO TO THE NBA!

    • Artthiel

      Obviously, all sports media is invested in more sports activity. But that doesn’t mean we have to disconnect our brains. Let’s hope we’ve learned. 

  • Hammtime

    And, is anyone really surprised by Kelley’s article? I mean, it’s as if Kelley thinks, “How can I write a stupid article today. Oh, I know!”.

    • Artthiel

      Hammtime, I don’t think Steve is stupid. He just wants hoops back on any terms. I want the the city to get its terms.

  • Hammtime

    And, is anyone really surprised by Kelley’s article? I mean, it’s as if Kelley thinks, “How can I write a stupid article today. Oh, I know!”.

    • Artthiel

      Hammtime, I don’t think Steve is stupid. He just wants hoops back on any terms. I want the the city to get its terms.

  • HunterGatherer

    This will be one Thiel column Kelley can’t regurgitate and pass off as his own in three days.

    • Artthiel

      Steve wouldn’t do that. He has other readers to respond to.

  • HunterGatherer

    This will be one Thiel column Kelley can’t regurgitate and pass off as his own in three days.

    • Artthiel

      Steve wouldn’t do that. He has other readers to respond to.

  • Anonymous

    Art, with all due respect, we need to focus on what’s best for Seattle at this point and all this BS about apologies, etc. is a waste of time and energy about things we can’t control.  Whether or not we get an apology from David Stern or the league is pointless and shouldn’t be an obstacle in moving forward towards what is best for the city of Seattle.     Where we should be putting our attention is on this arena deal and what Chris Hansen is offering and whether or not this is the right and best deal Seattle has seen in getting an arena built.    If it can get everyone on board to get it done, and comes from a private individual making the investment who will then have to deal with the NBA in getting a team here, then it’s his business to worry about Stern and the NBA.
    All of the hissy-fits about waiting for an apology from Stern is childish and I wouldn’t even raise my children in such a way.   Forgiveness is something we can control and I would want my kids to worry about what they can control, forgive, and move on regardless of whether or not they get an apology.  

    Even at that, I can understand why people still have a tough time doing it.   So if you can’t, at least recognize it is inconsequential to moving forward with a new area.  If one gets built, decide for yourself whether you want to support a new team or not.   Personally, I doubt I will as all of this NBA chaos has gotten me interested in the NHL.   But I see no point in telling basketball fans what they should decide to do.   To disenfranchised sports fan, let me humbly offer hockey as something to check out and a way from moving on from the NBA.  

    But bottom line is David Stern has nothing to do us deciding what is best for our community.

    • Artthiel

      Jamo, I raised the point because Stern raised the point in May about how Seattle treated the NBA — a complete misrepresentation. And now he’s back because he has another team in trouble, and wants us to line up in supplication. As the column pointed out, the last time we had a lease creation, our desperation made it a disaster. We cannot forget Stern’s words and  deeds in whatever the community decides what to do. As I wrote, I have no expectation he’ll apologize, but someone in town needs to call him to account.
       

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for the reply, Art.    My position is the arena deal appears on the surface at this point to be a private investment by a private party which may or may not be a benefit to Seattle and surrounding environs.  That is the issue.   The ‘stuff’ about the NBA is secondary and down the road and all the fog about apologies is distracting us from the task at hand.    In some respects, Steve’s column is misplaced as I think maybe a better way to put his point was we need to put our feeling aside and get on with what’s next.   ‘Forgiveness’ may be too far a step for most people at this point (obviously given the posts on the Times’ boards in response).   But the task at hand is there is a proposal coming forward that seems to solve the problem and responds to the criticisms of the past of publicly financed stadiums/arenas.    We, as a community, need to decide if it is a direction we want to support and move forward with.  

        • Artthiel

          A reasoned take, Jamo. Absent a publlcly disclosed plan, we’re dealing with second-hand info, so the superficial stuff is getting the attention.

  • Jamo57

    Art, with all due respect, we need to focus on what’s best for Seattle at this point and all this BS about apologies, etc. is a waste of time and energy about things we can’t control.  Whether or not we get an apology from David Stern or the league is pointless and shouldn’t be an obstacle in moving forward towards what is best for the city of Seattle.     Where we should be putting our attention is on this arena deal and what Chris Hansen is offering and whether or not this is the right and best deal Seattle has seen in getting an arena built.    If it can get everyone on board to get it done, and comes from a private individual making the investment who will then have to deal with the NBA in getting a team here, then it’s his business to worry about Stern and the NBA.
    All of the hissy-fits about waiting for an apology from Stern is childish and I wouldn’t even raise my children in such a way.   Forgiveness is something we can control and I would want my kids to worry about what they can control, forgive, and move on regardless of whether or not they get an apology.  

    Even at that, I can understand why people still have a tough time doing it.   So if you can’t, at least recognize it is inconsequential to moving forward with a new area.  If one gets built, decide for yourself whether you want to support a new team or not.   Personally, I doubt I will as all of this NBA chaos has gotten me interested in the NHL.   But I see no point in telling basketball fans what they should decide to do.   To disenfranchised sports fan, let me humbly offer hockey as something to check out and a way from moving on from the NBA.  

    But bottom line is David Stern has nothing to do us deciding what is best for our community.

    • Artthiel

      Jamo, I raised the point because Stern raised the point in May about how Seattle treated the NBA — a complete misrepresentation. And now he’s back because he has another team in trouble, and wants us to line up in supplication. As the column pointed out, the last time we had a lease creation, our desperation made it a disaster. We cannot forget Stern’s words and  deeds in whatever the community decides what to do. As I wrote, I have no expectation he’ll apologize, but someone in town needs to call him to account.
       

      • Jamo57

        Thanks for the reply, Art.    My position is the arena deal appears on the surface at this point to be a private investment by a private party which may or may not be a benefit to Seattle and surrounding environs.  That is the issue.   The ‘stuff’ about the NBA is secondary and down the road and all the fog about apologies is distracting us from the task at hand.    In some respects, Steve’s column is misplaced as I think maybe a better way to put his point was we need to put our feeling aside and get on with what’s next.   ‘Forgiveness’ may be too far a step for most people at this point (obviously given the posts on the Times’ boards in response).   But the task at hand is there is a proposal coming forward that seems to solve the problem and responds to the criticisms of the past of publicly financed stadiums/arenas.    We, as a community, need to decide if it is a direction we want to support and move forward with.  

        • Artthiel

          A reasoned take, Jamo. Absent a publlcly disclosed plan, we’re dealing with second-hand info, so the superficial stuff is getting the attention.

  • Theohs21

    Thanks, Art, for offering a measured rebuttal to Steve Kelley’s bend over and kiss the pig column. It’s nice to have a writer in town who actually has a pulse on the way Sonics’ fans feel about double-dealing Dave Sterno.

    • Artthiel

      Steve’s view reflects the views of many Sonics fans too. The inevitable controversy will have many views, and as I wrote, I would like smart, sober people to have a voice so the city doesn’t get short-sheeted again.

  • Theohs21

    Thanks, Art, for offering a measured rebuttal to Steve Kelley’s bend over and kiss the pig column. It’s nice to have a writer in town who actually has a pulse on the way Sonics’ fans feel about double-dealing Dave Sterno.

    • Artthiel

      Steve’s view reflects the views of many Sonics fans too. The inevitable controversy will have many views, and as I wrote, I would like smart, sober people to have a voice so the city doesn’t get short-sheeted again.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V4OZBF7NXKLDFE5V2ZIF6WWT3E Angelo

    This article should go national. I never knew that about the lease terms and I completely agree with th author that if I was a mayor hoping to get re-elected I would’ve done the same deal without hesitation. Particularly in the volatile, circus-like political and financial climate we live in today. After voiding the CP3 trade to the Lakers I thought to myself David Stern is becoming a tyrant. Now I know that to be wrong, he is a tyrant and has been for some time. Art amazing article, Thank You.

    • Anonymous

      The best we can ask for is that you tell your friends to tell their friends about this story and the site.  Thanks for being a reader.

    • Artthiel

      Sports arenas are high-risk, high-reward for any politician in any market. But with the economy still killing the tax revs that funded govt, this deal has to be vetted carefully and not driven by sports passion or civic prestige.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V4OZBF7NXKLDFE5V2ZIF6WWT3E Angelo

    This article should go national. I never knew that about the lease terms and I completely agree with th author that if I was a mayor hoping to get re-elected I would’ve done the same deal without hesitation. Particularly in the volatile, circus-like political and financial climate we live in today. After voiding the CP3 trade to the Lakers I thought to myself David Stern is becoming a tyrant. Now I know that to be wrong, he is a tyrant and has been for some time. Art amazing article, Thank You.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V4OZBF7NXKLDFE5V2ZIF6WWT3E Angelo

    This article should go national. I never knew that about the lease terms and I completely agree with th author that if I was a mayor hoping to get re-elected I would’ve done the same deal without hesitation. Particularly in the volatile, circus-like political and financial climate we live in today. After voiding the CP3 trade to the Lakers I thought to myself David Stern is becoming a tyrant. Now I know that to be wrong, he is a tyrant and has been for some time. Art amazing article, Thank You.

    • sportspressnw

      The best we can ask for is that you tell your friends to tell their friends about this story and the site.  Thanks for being a reader.

    • Artthiel

      Sports arenas are high-risk, high-reward for any politician in any market. But with the economy still killing the tax revs that funded govt, this deal has to be vetted carefully and not driven by sports passion or civic prestige.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V4OZBF7NXKLDFE5V2ZIF6WWT3E Angelo

    BTW to all the posters who would bash the entirety of the NBA let me say that I hate Bennet, Stern, et al. as much as anyone. But if you prefer the NHL over the NBA because of this SNAFU I have the feeling you were never a real fan, or you are misplacing your anger.

    • Artthiel

      You’re right about making the choice for business reasons than emotional ones. But to make the building work financially, I think it eventually has to have both leagues as c-anchor tenants. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V4OZBF7NXKLDFE5V2ZIF6WWT3E Angelo

    BTW to all the posters who would bash the entirety of the NBA let me say that I hate Bennet, Stern, et al. as much as anyone. But if you prefer the NHL over the NBA because of this SNAFU I have the feeling you were never a real fan, or you are misplacing your anger.

    • Artthiel

      You’re right about making the choice for business reasons than emotional ones. But to make the building work financially, I think it eventually has to have both leagues as c-anchor tenants. 

  • Pixeldawg13

    While I tend to agree that it’d be nice to have the Seattle Center location for an arena, it isn’t–as Art says in a response–going to happen due to the ‘park’ status of the Center.

    And there is a great plus to having a new hoops arena in SoDo–Howard Schultz will have to look at it every day from his corporate HQ, and thereby be reminded of how he became one of the Northwest’s most-reviled businessmen.

    As to Stern–never forgive and never forget.  It is too bad that in order to have an arena that’d work for NHL, we’d have to do business with the NBA again.

    • Artthiel

      Mentioned the Schultz irony Friday. Suh-weet! I do hope that the personality stuff can be surmounted, but that’s mostly up to Stern.

  • Pixeldawg13

    While I tend to agree that it’d be nice to have the Seattle Center location for an arena, it isn’t–as Art says in a response–going to happen due to the ‘park’ status of the Center.

    And there is a great plus to having a new hoops arena in SoDo–Howard Schultz will have to look at it every day from his corporate HQ, and thereby be reminded of how he became one of the Northwest’s most-reviled businessmen.

    As to Stern–never forgive and never forget.  It is too bad that in order to have an arena that’d work for NHL, we’d have to do business with the NBA again.

    • Artthiel

      Mentioned the Schultz irony Friday. Suh-weet! I do hope that the personality stuff can be surmounted, but that’s mostly up to Stern.

  • Grover

    “A mysterious hedge fund manager who went to Seattle’s Roosevelt High School is ready with hundreds of millions of dollars to build a privately financed arena, according to Nickels’ successor, Mike McGinn.”

    Where did you hear this, Art?  I have not found that anywhere.

    Why would anyone do that?  Just as a gift to Seattle?  Even Steve Ballmer, who lives in our area, and is far, far wealthier than that hedge fund manager, wouldn’t agree to do that.  So, why would anyone else do that?  Is that guy just stupid, or what?

    Pro sports teams don’t pay any sort of significant “rent” to play in arenas.  The M’s pay less than $1 million per year at Safeco Field, and the Seahawks pay less than $1 million per year at the publicly-owned football stadium (used to be Qwest Field).  To pay the bond payments on a $500 million construction bond would require about $50 million per year over 20 years.  So, the private owner would ask each team to pay $25 million per year in rent?  lol   Not going to happen.

    Really, there is no way a privately-funded arena works without the owner of the arena just losing a ton of money.

    I am curious to hear any theory anyone has on why someone would build a new arena with their own money, and how this could possibly work out without them just losing most, or all, of the money they spent on the arena.

  • Grover

    “A mysterious hedge fund manager who went to Seattle’s Roosevelt High School is ready with hundreds of millions of dollars to build a privately financed arena, according to Nickels’ successor, Mike McGinn.”

    Where did you hear this, Art?  I have not found that anywhere.

    Why would anyone do that?  Just as a gift to Seattle?  Even Steve Ballmer, who lives in our area, and is far, far wealthier than that hedge fund manager, wouldn’t agree to do that.  So, why would anyone else do that?  Is that guy just stupid, or what?

    Pro sports teams don’t pay any sort of significant “rent” to play in arenas.  The M’s pay less than $1 million per year at Safeco Field, and the Seahawks pay less than $1 million per year at the publicly-owned football stadium (used to be Qwest Field).  To pay the bond payments on a $500 million construction bond would require about $50 million per year over 20 years.  So, the private owner would ask each team to pay $25 million per year in rent?  lol   Not going to happen.

    Really, there is no way a privately-funded arena works without the owner of the arena just losing a ton of money.

    I am curious to hear any theory anyone has on why someone would build a new arena with their own money, and how this could possibly work out without them just losing most, or all, of the money they spent on the arena.

  • Wally

    When you use the term “acme of humiliation” are you suggesting the Seattle will continue to but the Wile E Coyote sport negotiations?

    • Artthiel

      I am imagining an anvil falling from the sky and striking the head of a forlorn figure in the desert  . . . 

  • Wally

    When you use the term “acme of humiliation” are you suggesting the Seattle will continue to but the Wile E Coyote sport negotiations?

    • Artthiel

      I am imagining an anvil falling from the sky and striking the head of a forlorn figure in the desert  . . . 

  • 3 Lions

    I just about threw up when I saw the Kelly article headline. In turn, I don’t think Stern has it in him to apologize let alone accept any responsibility for what heappened here. It is time for Stern to move on really, he has been around long enough & the NBA could use a fresh perspective. If Sacremento can’t come up w a financial package are the Maloof (spelling) brothers going to rollover for Mr. Hansen? Where is Balmaer in all this? It would seem Hansen needs more property in SODO than what he has w everyone knowing his agenda. I would love to have the Sonics back & a dual purpose arena is probably required. I think it would be tough for a NHL team however…

  • 3 Lions

    I just about threw up when I saw the Kelly article headline. In turn, I don’t think Stern has it in him to apologize let alone accept any responsibility for what heappened here. It is time for Stern to move on really, he has been around long enough & the NBA could use a fresh perspective. If Sacremento can’t come up w a financial package are the Maloof (spelling) brothers going to rollover for Mr. Hansen? Where is Balmaer in all this? It would seem Hansen needs more property in SODO than what he has w everyone knowing his agenda. I would love to have the Sonics back & a dual purpose arena is probably required. I think it would be tough for a NHL team however…

  • jafabian

    Stern will use Seattle as an example to NBA cities as to what could happen to them if they don’t tow the line as often as he can.  As long as cities bow down to him and provide arenas like the Staples Center or the Conseco Fieldhouse and give those teams numerous tax breaks he’ll always do that.  At some point some city has to call his bluff.  I was hoping KJ would be the person to spearhead that because if he was that would have made a huge impact on the league but it wasn’t meant to be.  But once a city does…boy.  That will be something to watch.  At some point the NBA’s economics will catch up to them.
     

  • jafabian

    Stern will use Seattle as an example to NBA cities as to what could happen to them if they don’t tow the line as often as he can.  As long as cities bow down to him and provide arenas like the Staples Center or the Conseco Fieldhouse and give those teams numerous tax breaks he’ll always do that.  At some point some city has to call his bluff.  I was hoping KJ would be the person to spearhead that because if he was that would have made a huge impact on the league but it wasn’t meant to be.  But once a city does…boy.  That will be something to watch.  At some point the NBA’s economics will catch up to them.
     

  • Roja

    In knowing Art’s level of professionalism he wouldn’t make it about Steve Kelley’s shortsighted and pandering editorial.  I am not Art, nor do I have his level of maturity, so I will say that Steve’s article was much like most of his articles – lacking in any true insight, simple minded and pandering to a Seattle basketball crowd craving a return of the Sonics.  Again, we have to rely on Art to cut through the giddiness and thoughtless hysteria to get to what’s real.  I loved the Sonics throughout my childhood and want them back.  However, those that paid NBA bills in Seattle should retain some self respect and not conveniently forget what Stern, et al onspired to do not so many years ago.  It deserves to be called what it was, a move made in a fit of pique.  Stern sure taught Nickels at the expense of a city’s first pro sports franchise.  Furthermore, it was done at the expense of the NBA brand in Seattle.  But, he’s been ruining the NBA brand every since Jordan retired.    

  • Roja

    In knowing Art’s level of professionalism he wouldn’t make it about Steve Kelley’s shortsighted and pandering editorial.  I am not Art, nor do I have his level of maturity, so I will say that Steve’s article was much like most of his articles – lacking in any true insight, simple minded and pandering to a Seattle basketball crowd craving a return of the Sonics.  Again, we have to rely on Art to cut through the giddiness and thoughtless hysteria to get to what’s real.  I loved the Sonics throughout my childhood and want them back.  However, those that paid NBA bills in Seattle should retain some self respect and not conveniently forget what Stern, et al onspired to do not so many years ago.  It deserves to be called what it was, a move made in a fit of pique.  Stern sure taught Nickels at the expense of a city’s first pro sports franchise.  Furthermore, it was done at the expense of the NBA brand in Seattle.  But, he’s been ruining the NBA brand every since Jordan retired.    

  • Anonymous

    this piece shows what independent media can do. thiel can question the motives of the rich doods while kelley has to lick the boots of stern because his editors make him do it. at this point i just get the seattle times for the jumble. 

    • Anonymous

      Be sure to tell 10,000 of your closest friends about SportspressNW.com.

  • notaboomer

    this piece shows what independent media can do. thiel can question the motives of the rich doods while kelley has to lick the boots of stern because his editors make him do it. at this point i just get the seattle times for the jumble. 

    • sportspressnw

      Be sure to tell 10,000 of your closest friends about SportspressNW.com.

  • Lotta World Chaos

    Having attended many 20,000+ games in the Kingdome during the 80′s, I would have never guessed that it would have come to this. . .  begging to reacquire/steal an NBA franchise with the help of David Stern ??   

  • Lotta World Chaos

    Having attended many 20,000+ games in the Kingdome during the 80′s, I would have never guessed that it would have come to this. . .  begging to reacquire/steal an NBA franchise with the help of David Stern ??   

  • Sounder_Beav

    Art, to be honest it’s not the best written article I’ve ever seen as your sentence structure and word choice is quite clunky….BUT…your opinion is spot on, and for that I thank you. I will be adding Sprorts Press NW to my favorites and will be back frequently. I’ll go to the Times for Josh Meyer’s top notch Sounders coverage and here for everything else!

  • Sounder_Beav

    Art, to be honest it’s not the best written article I’ve ever seen as your sentence structure and word choice is quite clunky….BUT…your opinion is spot on, and for that I thank you. I will be adding Sprorts Press NW to my favorites and will be back frequently. I’ll go to the Times for Josh Meyer’s top notch Sounders coverage and here for everything else!

  • http://twitter.com/elgauchogrub elgauchogrub

    Good article, thanks. One thing I’ve not seen much mention of his what I would consider the hypocritical position of the “bring them back” crowd.  Anyone who has been standing up and demonizing the NBA for stealing the Sonics and the unjust treatment of the city of Seattle, robbing the fans of their team really shouldn’t be cheering for the NBA to do the same thing to another city.

  • http://twitter.com/elgauchogrub elgauchogrub

    Good article, thanks. One thing I’ve not seen much mention of his what I would consider the hypocritical position of the “bring them back” crowd.  Anyone who has been standing up and demonizing the NBA for stealing the Sonics and the unjust treatment of the city of Seattle, robbing the fans of their team really shouldn’t be cheering for the NBA to do the same thing to another city.

  • Anonymous

    You have to remember that the Kings are like the town bicycle, everyone has ridden them.  Rochester, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Omaha, Kansas City again, Sacramento.  Totally different from the Sonics who were conceived, born and raised here.

  • ItsFinnagain

    You have to remember that the Kings are like the town bicycle, everyone has ridden them.  Rochester, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Omaha, Kansas City again, Sacramento.  Totally different from the Sonics who were conceived, born and raised here.