BY Art Thiel 09:36PM 02/16/2012

Thiel: Money is there; now comes the hard part

Everyone thought raising private capital would be the hardest part of creating a new arena, but even after Chris’s Hansen’s contribution, the NBA and NHL are still on the far horizon.

Given the heartaches, ripoffs, failures and boredom that have attended big-time sports in Seattle in recent years, we are overdue for an oil tanker’s worth of fairy dust.

A high five? How about a high 290 million to Chris Hansen?

Fergawdsakes, he was a 130-pound wrestler at Blanchet High School, and Thursday he lifted his old hometown on his back. Something remarkable happened in Seattle sports, and it didn’t involve having to trade a stiff.

Private capital did what it always should do for most civic projects: Take the lead. Keep hands out of the public till.

Hansen, a skinny 44-year-old sugar daddy who wants to see some Sonics hoops again, stood up when others sat down. If the letter is to be believed that was distributed by his local PR firm Thursday, “If you believe in what we are trying to do, the time has come to stand up and be heard. Go Sonics!”

So feel free to whoop. When you’re done, here’s what’s next: The hardest part.

Patience.

If this proposal — and that’s all it is — becomes an arena on First Avenue South, nearly in front of the office of the last owner Seattle was excited about, Howard Schultz, it’s going to take a damn long time.

As one person who was involved in the process said, not wanting to be quoted, “This is a stake in the ground. That’s it.”

NBA Kings coming from Sacramento? Very unlikely; the league doesn’t want to fail in a one-horse town and send the franchise to busy markets in Southern California or Seattle. NBA Hornets coming from New Orleans? No; new local owners are expected shortly. NHL Coyotes coming from Phoenix? Not to the temp site of KeyArena, which has only 11,000 unobstructed seats for hockey, and be stuck in it for three years.

Don’t dig out the old Payton jerseys yet.

Asked how long it would take to build an arena if ground were broken tomorrow, Carl Hirsch, the arena consultant hired by the city, was quick with the answer: “Two years.”

If you know Seattle, you know that before groundbreaking happens, the process of hearings, rezonings, mitigations, protests, objections and general cantankerousness borne of smelling a swindle behind every stump, is going to take a year minimum.

And if some calculations regarding the “self-sustaining” revenues from taxes generated by the project prove to be wrong, tack on another year for recriminations and politicking.

It remains great news that private money is taking the biggest risk, even guaranteeing that arena revenue shortfalls that pay down the mortgage will be covered by investors, not taxpayers.

But despite the arrival of Hansen and the diligence done by city and county officials and staffers to reassure skeptics, two things remain unchanged from when I wrote about them last week.

*NBA commissioner David Stern wants to use the vacancy in Seattle and the inevitable over-eagerness of its fans as leverage to squeeze better deals for vulnerable franchises from their governments — as the NFL uses the vacancy in Los Angeles. The longer Seattle stays unfulfilled, the better it is for the NBA.

*Which among the Seahawks, Mariners, Sounders, Huskies football, an NBA team and an NHL team will be the sixth ticket in town.

The latter refers not just to the single-seat ticket buyer, but to the potential season-ticket purchasers, advertisers, sponsors and broadcast outlets. Will there be, in three years, a market sufficiently robust to sustain all the enterprises?

Don’t know. Nobody knows. Officially, we’re in our first day of even imagining the possibility. But the thought is already in the heads of every franchise operator in town, including the University of Washington, which has a renovated stadium planned for 2013 that is also scheduled to retire its construction debt largely with pay-as-you-go revenues.

Neither of these issues are deal-stoppers. They are market complications added to a complicated logistical feat.  The reason it is complicated is because Hansen, according to officials, must secure an NBA team before the city and county begin their construction-bond commitments.

The idea is supposed to be that Hansen’s poaching and the governments’ help will happen concurrently, not in a linear way. But none of the Seattle parties will have control over the national and local market realities.

The parties have to move forward; $290 million for a civic project creates a huge amount of momentum.

It probably will work. For sure, it will be hard, and it will be a long way off.


YourThoughts

  • Hammtime

    At first sniff, I like this plan. The good:- $200 million limit to City/County liability- $290 million plus any construction cost overruns plus capital repairs/upgrades are paid for privately by ArenaCo- I-91 requirements are met- Arena owner (ArenaCo) also owns the main tenant(s) – the NBA franchise and maybe the NHL franchise too- Establishes fund to pay for Arena debt if tenant/owners fall behind- NHL fanchise comes to Seattle!!! The Bad:- NBA has to be part of the deal (this kills me! After what Stern did I would prefer to have nothing to do with him or his NBA)- requires stealing both an NBA franchise and an NHL franchise from other cities The Questions/Unknowns:- The deal is contingent on BOTH acquiring an NHL franchise and ArenaCo BUYING an NBA franchise. Could take some time, are the Maloofs interested in selling the Kings? Would the NBA be open to selling and moving the Hornets from New Orleans?- Would like to see details (aka numbers) on how ArenaCo plans to make money or enough money to pay for the building and lease to the City.- 30 years is a long time for a lease. We know the NBA biz model sucks, can Hansen and ArenaCo make enough money to pay the bills with an NBA franchise? What about in 10, 15, 20 years? The city and county are shielded from a lot of the risk but there is still some risk especially when dealing with the NBA business model. Some parts of this sound close to the deal struck in 1994 for the Key Arena remodel which goes to show how a great plan can turn into a nightmare in 10 years. I hope this doesn’t happen to this plan.- The city will take ownership of the arena after 30 years. Will it still be viable? Key arena was considered outdated 10 years after it was remodeled (it was just over 30 years old when it needed the remodel).

    • Artthiel

      Hamm, you raise many good questions that any serious citizen/hoops fan should ask. The private capital and the public’s shield from risk are outstanding features. But the need to poach two cities before a shovel moves is unlikely. As I wrote, Stern still needs Seattle to be vacant for awhile to scare other municipalities. Don’t lose sight of that. Nevertheless this is a much better deal than the KeyArena — 30 year bonds, 30 year lease and fixed public contribution with guarantees rev against shortfalls.  

  • Hammtime

    At first sniff, I like this plan. The good:- $200 million limit to City/County liability- $290 million plus any construction cost overruns plus capital repairs/upgrades are paid for privately by ArenaCo- I-91 requirements are met- Arena owner (ArenaCo) also owns the main tenant(s) – the NBA franchise and maybe the NHL franchise too- Establishes fund to pay for Arena debt if tenant/owners fall behind- NHL fanchise comes to Seattle!!! The Bad:- NBA has to be part of the deal (this kills me! After what Stern did I would prefer to have nothing to do with him or his NBA)- requires stealing both an NBA franchise and an NHL franchise from other cities The Questions/Unknowns:- The deal is contingent on BOTH acquiring an NHL franchise and ArenaCo BUYING an NBA franchise. Could take some time, are the Maloofs interested in selling the Kings? Would the NBA be open to selling and moving the Hornets from New Orleans?- Would like to see details (aka numbers) on how ArenaCo plans to make money or enough money to pay for the building and lease to the City.- 30 years is a long time for a lease. We know the NBA biz model sucks, can Hansen and ArenaCo make enough money to pay the bills with an NBA franchise? What about in 10, 15, 20 years? The city and county are shielded from a lot of the risk but there is still some risk especially when dealing with the NBA business model. Some parts of this sound close to the deal struck in 1994 for the Key Arena remodel which goes to show how a great plan can turn into a nightmare in 10 years. I hope this doesn’t happen to this plan.- The city will take ownership of the arena after 30 years. Will it still be viable? Key arena was considered outdated 10 years after it was remodeled (it was just over 30 years old when it needed the remodel).

    • Artthiel

      Hamm, you raise many good questions that any serious citizen/hoops fan should ask. The private capital and the public’s shield from risk are outstanding features. But the need to poach two cities before a shovel moves is unlikely. As I wrote, Stern still needs Seattle to be vacant for awhile to scare other municipalities. Don’t lose sight of that. Nevertheless this is a much better deal than the KeyArena — 30 year bonds, 30 year lease and fixed public contribution with guarantees rev against shortfalls.  

  • guest

    The timing of this public announcement is interesting.  Just before the March First pseudo-dealine, it reminds Sacramento citizens and officials that private money should / can pay 290 million for a new building.  Why should they settle for less?

    • Artthiel

      I’m told Hansen and his people were not happy with the leaks to news media about the project. They absolutely do not want to be seen as predatory, even if that’s what happens. But there’s no doubt the announcement serves the NBA’s purposes in every city where a government objects to subsidizing a sports building with tax money they no longer have.  

  • guest

    The timing of this public announcement is interesting.  Just before the March First pseudo-dealine, it reminds Sacramento citizens and officials that private money should / can pay 290 million for a new building.  Why should they settle for less?

    • Artthiel

      I’m told Hansen and his people were not happy with the leaks to news media about the project. They absolutely do not want to be seen as predatory, even if that’s what happens. But there’s no doubt the announcement serves the NBA’s purposes in every city where a government objects to subsidizing a sports building with tax money they no longer have.  

  • Anonymous

    In the words of that wise old sage, Homer Simpson:

    ‘Don’t harsh my buzz, man!’

  • Jamo57

    In the words of that wise old sage, Homer Simpson:

    ‘Don’t harsh my buzz, man!’

  • Brett

    I just don’t think it will take that long. I have a very hard time believing Hansen would roll out this proposal in a very public way if he didn’t have confidence that he could secure an NBA and/or NHL team fairly quickly. He’s obviously been talking to Stern for a while and is privy to information that we aren’t. I wouldn’t be surprised if something is in the works right now.

  • Brett

    I just don’t think it will take that long. I have a very hard time believing Hansen would roll out this proposal in a very public way if he didn’t have confidence that he could secure an NBA and/or NHL team fairly quickly. He’s obviously been talking to Stern for a while and is privy to information that we aren’t. I wouldn’t be surprised if something is in the works right now.

  • Grover

    I found Dively’s comments most interesting.  He spoke about sales taxes covering the debt service.

    So, I guess that is the plan — using sales tax revenue from King County and Seattle to pay off the public’s $200 million share of construction bonds?  I had thought it was going to be mostly “rent” from the teams, which would not work for the teams, at all, but now I suspect the rent will be minimal, as at Safeco and Qwest Fields, and that most of the $200 million in bonds will be paid off with sales tax. 

    And there is no sales tax on tickets at pro sports venues, so it will have to be sales tax collected on something else.  Or, are they proposing sales tax on tickets at the new arena?   But, that would be a “new” tax.

    Which is pure public subsidy, of course.

    Ballmer wanted $150 million of public money in his plan.  These guys want $200 million in public money.  The public was overwhelmingly against giving Ballmer $150 million in public money.  Why would the public favor giving some guy named Chris Hansen $200 million in public money, mostly sales tax revenue, it would appear.

    And when are we going to hear just exactly where the $200 million in public contributions will come from?

    As I said, at first I was thinking that was going to be mostly rent paid by the teams.  But, after listening to Dively, I suspect it is going to be mostly sales tax — pure tax subsidy for multi-millionaire pro athletes and billionaire pro sports owners.

    • Ray Feighery

      Every ‘Fact” you are claiming is wrong. First, nowhere did it say Sales Tax revenue would be used. It will be from taxes drwn from the vents and rent that will repay the $200 M ovr 30 years. ANY Shortfall in tax revenue will be made up by the TEAM OWNERS in additional rent. They will be tied to a 30 year lease.
      Balmer was contributing $150M and the city was chipping in $75M.
      What people seem to bemising here is that a PRIVATE group of investors are contributing nearly $300M to a PUBLIC BUILDING!!!! they will NOT own it. this is essentially a gift to the City!
      It’s amazing to me how a plan can be clearly laid out and presented and yet people still make widly innacurate assumptions simply because they failed to pay attention!

      • David Utevsky

        You think an arena lease will hold an NBA team?  Did you even notice what happened here a few years ago? 

        • Ray Feighery

          Yes I did…and am intimately knowledgable about what happened.
          Fact: The Lease was solid and it was only after the City caved that the team was allowed to move

          Fact: The KA Lease was a MESS…Lease was for 15 years but Bonds were for 20. Lease was keyed on Suite and Club Seat revenues with no consideration for when the team had a downtuen (And the Club Seats were not as good as cheaper seats)

          Fact: had mayor mcCheese NOT caved and stood by his word, the Sonics would still be here (and STILL need a better building) The OKC Ownership group lost 80% of thier wealth 3 months later…it was the “Miracle” the Mayor said it would take…he just didn’t wait for it.

          Fact: this agreement has not just a lease but a 30 year binding Non-relocation Agreement. Even if they sold the team the new owners they would be held to the same agreement

          Fact: This Arena would be SELF-FUNDING including a $290M private contribution (please show me any other incidence where there was this level of private funding without the owners getting a significant piece of the building)

          Fact: The City’s “Contribution” would simply be from Bonds not from the General Fund. they will essentially be using thier line of credit.

          Fact: Any shortcomings in Tax Revenue from events and visitng players will be made up by the Team Owners which will have set up a fund for this purpose as part of the agreement.

          I have no doubt the Provicial aspect of Seattle will strive to find something wrong with this or continue to make idiotic statements like “We should use the money for schools” when there IS no money without the Arena…again, self FUNDING.

        • Artthiel

          Hello David, Regarding the Sonics KeyArena lease, it  was for 15 years, and the city misguidedly agreed to be bought out of the final two years. It was a voluntary decision based on their unwillingness to trust their side of the landlord-tenant dispute. Having sat witness to the entirety of the trial, my view is the city would have won had they not settled. But the politicians fear risk more than they fear logic, and voted to take Bennett’s $40 million. I understand it, but don’t agree with it.  

      • Grover

        The investors will not own it.  But the investors will get every dollar of revenue from it, while paying for only about 60% of the cost of the building.  Hansen’s group will pay 60% of the cost of a building and get 100% of the revenues from it.  The city will pay 40% of the cost of the building and get 0% of the revenues from it.  Who got the better deal?

        The city was putting only $75 million into the Ballmer deal, but the city is putting $200 million into this deal.  So this deal is better for the city than the Ballmer deal?  lol  This deal is costing the city $125 million more than the Ballmer deal would have.

        You have no idea what you are talking about.

        • Ray Feighery

          Sorry pal, you’re the one who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. There had been no determination on how the revenues from the building would be split so you can’t make that assumption. The City and County will be receiving rent for 30 years on the building for what will eventually be $0 investment.No city or county revenue is being used simply bonds which are protected by the Fund the owners will have to secure.
          The fact is you’re clearly against any arena and are simply trying to create facts not in evidence.

          As for knowing about the Key Arena deal I guess I didn’t have the in person conversations with Matt Griffen who was leading the effort.

          I ultimately don’t care if your against the arena, it’s your right to be. What I have a problem with is arguments based on ignorance. Do yourself a favor and read a little and get your facts straight…maybe then you’ll know what YOUR talking about because you sure don’t now!

  • Grover

    I found Dively’s comments most interesting.  He spoke about sales taxes covering the debt service.

    So, I guess that is the plan — using sales tax revenue from King County and Seattle to pay off the public’s $200 million share of construction bonds?  I had thought it was going to be mostly “rent” from the teams, which would not work for the teams, at all, but now I suspect the rent will be minimal, as at Safeco and Qwest Fields, and that most of the $200 million in bonds will be paid off with sales tax. 

    And there is no sales tax on tickets at pro sports venues, so it will have to be sales tax collected on something else.  Or, are they proposing sales tax on tickets at the new arena?   But, that would be a “new” tax.

    Which is pure public subsidy, of course.

    Ballmer wanted $150 million of public money in his plan.  These guys want $200 million in public money.  The public was overwhelmingly against giving Ballmer $150 million in public money.  Why would the public favor giving some guy named Chris Hansen $200 million in public money, mostly sales tax revenue, it would appear.

    And when are we going to hear just exactly where the $200 million in public contributions will come from?

    As I said, at first I was thinking that was going to be mostly rent paid by the teams.  But, after listening to Dively, I suspect it is going to be mostly sales tax — pure tax subsidy for multi-millionaire pro athletes and billionaire pro sports owners.

    • Ray Feighery

      Every ‘Fact” you are claiming is wrong. First, nowhere did it say Sales Tax revenue would be used. It will be from taxes drwn from the vents and rent that will repay the $200 M ovr 30 years. ANY Shortfall in tax revenue will be made up by the TEAM OWNERS in additional rent. They will be tied to a 30 year lease.
      Balmer was contributing $150M and the city was chipping in $75M.
      What people seem to bemising here is that a PRIVATE group of investors are contributing nearly $300M to a PUBLIC BUILDING!!!! they will NOT own it. this is essentially a gift to the City!
      It’s amazing to me how a plan can be clearly laid out and presented and yet people still make widly innacurate assumptions simply because they failed to pay attention!

      • David Utevsky

        You think an arena lease will hold an NBA team?  Did you even notice what happened here a few years ago? 

        • Ray Feighery

          Yes I did…and am intimately knowledgable about what happened.
          Fact: The Lease was solid and it was only after the City caved that the team was allowed to move

          Fact: The KA Lease was a MESS…Lease was for 15 years but Bonds were for 20. Lease was keyed on Suite and Club Seat revenues with no consideration for when the team had a downtuen (And the Club Seats were not as good as cheaper seats)

          Fact: had mayor mcCheese NOT caved and stood by his word, the Sonics would still be here (and STILL need a better building) The OKC Ownership group lost 80% of thier wealth 3 months later…it was the “Miracle” the Mayor said it would take…he just didn’t wait for it.

          Fact: this agreement has not just a lease but a 30 year binding Non-relocation Agreement. Even if they sold the team the new owners they would be held to the same agreement

          Fact: This Arena would be SELF-FUNDING including a $290M private contribution (please show me any other incidence where there was this level of private funding without the owners getting a significant piece of the building)

          Fact: The City’s “Contribution” would simply be from Bonds not from the General Fund. they will essentially be using thier line of credit.

          Fact: Any shortcomings in Tax Revenue from events and visitng players will be made up by the Team Owners which will have set up a fund for this purpose as part of the agreement.

          I have no doubt the Provicial aspect of Seattle will strive to find something wrong with this or continue to make idiotic statements like “We should use the money for schools” when there IS no money without the Arena…again, self FUNDING.

        • Artthiel

          Hello David, Regarding the Sonics KeyArena lease, it  was for 15 years, and the city misguidedly agreed to be bought out of the final two years. It was a voluntary decision based on their unwillingness to trust their side of the landlord-tenant dispute. Having sat witness to the entirety of the trial, my view is the city would have won had they not settled. But the politicians fear risk more than they fear logic, and voted to take Bennett’s $40 million. I understand it, but don’t agree with it.  

      • Grover

        The investors will not own it.  But the investors will get every dollar of revenue from it, while paying for only about 60% of the cost of the building.  Hansen’s group will pay 60% of the cost of a building and get 100% of the revenues from it.  The city will pay 40% of the cost of the building and get 0% of the revenues from it.  Who got the better deal?

        The city was putting only $75 million into the Ballmer deal, but the city is putting $200 million into this deal.  So this deal is better for the city than the Ballmer deal?  lol  This deal is costing the city $125 million more than the Ballmer deal would have.

        You have no idea what you are talking about.

        • Ray Feighery

          Sorry pal, you’re the one who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. There had been no determination on how the revenues from the building would be split so you can’t make that assumption. The City and County will be receiving rent for 30 years on the building for what will eventually be $0 investment.No city or county revenue is being used simply bonds which are protected by the Fund the owners will have to secure.
          The fact is you’re clearly against any arena and are simply trying to create facts not in evidence.

          As for knowing about the Key Arena deal I guess I didn’t have the in person conversations with Matt Griffen who was leading the effort.

          I ultimately don’t care if your against the arena, it’s your right to be. What I have a problem with is arguments based on ignorance. Do yourself a favor and read a little and get your facts straight…maybe then you’ll know what YOUR talking about because you sure don’t now!

  • jafabian

    I’m very skeptical about this.  I have my doubts the city can afford to support two more pro sport franchises and I don’t think the NBA wants to give up their trump card that they can use to hold over other cities heads when they hesitate to pony up funds for a new arena.  David Stern likes to be able to say “Do you want to be just like Seattle or do you want to keep your NBA team?”

    I still feel that a renovated Key Arena is the better solution for Seattle despite the fact it’s part of a civic park.  It worked soundly for decades until the Mariners and Seahawks dared to start winning and took away the Sonics customers.  Never mind the fact that under Howard Schultz’s watch the team slid into mediocrity.  But at this point all that is water under the bridge.  But what if an arena is built and no NBA team comes?  Or if the Coyotes move to a different city?  What kind of guarantees are there then?  Are taxpayers still on the hook for the cost of a new arena?  And what happens to the Seattle Center which is struggling to stay afloat right now?  I question if all this is simply an attempt to placate sport fans as well as McGinn trying to smooth things over with voters angry with him for the way he handled the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement process.  He keeps trying to sell himself as “one of you: a sport fan,”

    I go to Key Arena and it sure doesn’t look like some old barn to me.  Interestingly enough, the current home of the Thunder only holds 1200 more than what Key Arena does for a basketball game though I believe it has more luxury suites.  As always, it’s about money.  The rich wanting to get richer with the fan losing out.  I just hope the Key doesn’t fall to the fate that the Charlotte Coliseum or the Miami Arena had to them.  There’s too much history there.

    How Madison Square Garden, built in 1968, stays standing is beyond me.

  • jafabian

    I’m very skeptical about this.  I have my doubts the city can afford to support two more pro sport franchises and I don’t think the NBA wants to give up their trump card that they can use to hold over other cities heads when they hesitate to pony up funds for a new arena.  David Stern likes to be able to say “Do you want to be just like Seattle or do you want to keep your NBA team?”

    I still feel that a renovated Key Arena is the better solution for Seattle despite the fact it’s part of a civic park.  It worked soundly for decades until the Mariners and Seahawks dared to start winning and took away the Sonics customers.  Never mind the fact that under Howard Schultz’s watch the team slid into mediocrity.  But at this point all that is water under the bridge.  But what if an arena is built and no NBA team comes?  Or if the Coyotes move to a different city?  What kind of guarantees are there then?  Are taxpayers still on the hook for the cost of a new arena?  And what happens to the Seattle Center which is struggling to stay afloat right now?  I question if all this is simply an attempt to placate sport fans as well as McGinn trying to smooth things over with voters angry with him for the way he handled the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement process.  He keeps trying to sell himself as “one of you: a sport fan,”

    I go to Key Arena and it sure doesn’t look like some old barn to me.  Interestingly enough, the current home of the Thunder only holds 1200 more than what Key Arena does for a basketball game though I believe it has more luxury suites.  As always, it’s about money.  The rich wanting to get richer with the fan losing out.  I just hope the Key doesn’t fall to the fate that the Charlotte Coliseum or the Miami Arena had to them.  There’s too much history there.

    How Madison Square Garden, built in 1968, stays standing is beyond me.

  • Soggyblogger

    From the most recent story I read on the subject, BOTH NHL AND NBA teams have to be committed before the govt. will do its part. That makes it sound like getting a color blind paraplegic to finish a Rubics Cube in record time would be easy by comparison.

    More and more I am thinking this is all part of some scam to leverage Sacramento into sacrificing their first three unborn children to pay for a stadium.

    I’d be pleased to see the Sonics return, but fear Seattle just isn’t big enough nor bored enough to support all these major league teams.

    I sense you, Art, tip toeing around coming out and being negative to this plan, and I can understand why. Because I also get the strong feeling that the fix is in from the Seattle Times to rally support for this boondoggle.

    • Cruddy

      Not only have you stuck your entire head inside this “gift horse’s mouth”, it looks like your are probing its rectum too.

    • Anonymous

      Actually, I think Art’s been a skeptic about this arena deal ever since the name Chris Hansen came out in public…not a skeptic about Hansen so much as skeptical of how this whole thing will work.  You are right about the Times, however: The journalists there are totally in the bag and gladly doing David Stern’s work for him.  I think the term Stalin had for people like Steve Kelley and Jerry Brewer was “useful idiots.”

      I live several counties away now (after growing up in the Seattle area), so as long as I don’t have to pay taxes for this arena, go ahead and build it.  Just don’t expect me to buy tickets and attend games…I go back to the earliest days of the Sonics, but I don’t need the NBA to enjoy basketball.  The state prep playoffs are in full swing and the Huskies are battling for a PAC 12 title.  The sport of basketball is alive and well in Western Washington.  It’s just too bad that people who’d spend $100 for parking, tickets and concessions to watch a bunch of David Stern’s carpetbaggers won’t drive a few blocks from their home and spend $5-6 (free parking) to watch their local high school team with young players who are actually from Seattle.  It speaks volumes.

      • Artthiel

        Your reading skills are excellent, Radio. I think Hansen, from what I’ve been able to find out, is who he seems to be. He’s done his part, and the community should be grateful. I understand the Times’ business and personal enthusiasms for the project, but I’m an advocate of smart deals that don’t further piss off the majority of taxpayers who don’t need another reason to distrust government. And as far as preps, it’s fun, but the vast majority of Americans are into spectacle. Jeremy Lin is a spectacle. Most of us can’t resist.

    • Artthiel

      Anyone using an organ besides the heart has to view this as mixed, Soggy. It is very complicated, particularly after I asked several politicians what comes first: The public commitment or a team? None could give a straight answer. The best I heard from anyone was “concurrently?” Possible, but difficult at best. The Times, like any major newspaper in America, is desperate for readers, and sports makes readers.  

  • Soggyblogger

    From the most recent story I read on the subject, BOTH NHL AND NBA teams have to be committed before the govt. will do its part. That makes it sound like getting a color blind paraplegic to finish a Rubics Cube in record time would be easy by comparison.

    More and more I am thinking this is all part of some scam to leverage Sacramento into sacrificing their first three unborn children to pay for a stadium.

    I’d be pleased to see the Sonics return, but fear Seattle just isn’t big enough nor bored enough to support all these major league teams.

    I sense you, Art, tip toeing around coming out and being negative to this plan, and I can understand why. Because I also get the strong feeling that the fix is in from the Seattle Times to rally support for this boondoggle.

    • Cruddy

      Not only have you stuck your entire head inside this “gift horse’s mouth”, it looks like your are probing its rectum too.

    • RadioGuy

      Actually, I think Art’s been a skeptic about this arena deal ever since the name Chris Hansen came out in public…not a skeptic about Hansen so much as skeptical of how this whole thing will work.  You are right about the Times, however: The journalists there are totally in the bag and gladly doing David Stern’s work for him.  I think the term Stalin had for people like Steve Kelley and Jerry Brewer was “useful idiots.”

      I live several counties away now (after growing up in the Seattle area), so as long as I don’t have to pay taxes for this arena, go ahead and build it.  Just don’t expect me to buy tickets and attend games…I go back to the earliest days of the Sonics, but I don’t need the NBA to enjoy basketball.  The state prep playoffs are in full swing and the Huskies are battling for a PAC 12 title.  The sport of basketball is alive and well in Western Washington.  It’s just too bad that people who’d spend $100 for parking, tickets and concessions to watch a bunch of David Stern’s carpetbaggers won’t drive a few blocks from their home and spend $5-6 (free parking) to watch their local high school team with young players who are actually from Seattle.  It speaks volumes.

      • Artthiel

        Your reading skills are excellent, Radio. I think Hansen, from what I’ve been able to find out, is who he seems to be. He’s done his part, and the community should be grateful. I understand the Times’ business and personal enthusiasms for the project, but I’m an advocate of smart deals that don’t further piss off the majority of taxpayers who don’t need another reason to distrust government. And as far as preps, it’s fun, but the vast majority of Americans are into spectacle. Jeremy Lin is a spectacle. Most of us can’t resist.

    • Artthiel

      Anyone using an organ besides the heart has to view this as mixed, Soggy. It is very complicated, particularly after I asked several politicians what comes first: The public commitment or a team? None could give a straight answer. The best I heard from anyone was “concurrently?” Possible, but difficult at best. The Times, like any major newspaper in America, is desperate for readers, and sports makes readers.  

  • Curious

    I realize that the new arena is still in the planning stages, but I would really like to know how they’re going to put a new arena on a lot that is less than 300 wide (from the street to the west to the railroad tracks to the east). Key Arena is approx 400×400 feet (and that doesn’t count the sidewalks etc. that surround the building). The new site is approx 300×700 feet – and that’s the entire site.  

    • Artthiel

      Unresolved question. More property is going to be purchased, But railroads have always been a little fussy about surrendering right of way.  Would you be OK with paying $10 for a sideline seat if you had to move your chair twice a game for the Burlington Northern from Portland?

  • Curious

    I realize that the new arena is still in the planning stages, but I would really like to know how they’re going to put a new arena on a lot that is less than 300 wide (from the street to the west to the railroad tracks to the east). Key Arena is approx 400×400 feet (and that doesn’t count the sidewalks etc. that surround the building). The new site is approx 300×700 feet – and that’s the entire site.  

    • Artthiel

      Unresolved question. More property is going to be purchased, But railroads have always been a little fussy about surrendering right of way.  Would you be OK with paying $10 for a sideline seat if you had to move your chair twice a game for the Burlington Northern from Portland?

  • Soggyblogger

     The funniest part of this whole saga is the tactics being used by the pro arena people, starting with Steve Kelly who publicly called anyone who is skeptical “whiners”. Others call us “anti-sports” and we must have been “the last two chosen for teams as a child….” It is an interesting study in how taking a side in a debate tends to petrify entrenched positions. Once a person takes a position publicly, they tend to become more and more strident in defense of that position, which often finds its way to insults and de-humanizing the opposition.

    I began with a healthy hopeful openness to this idea. I hang around sport blogs because I actually enjoy watching sports. I played sports as a child, and actually make a living with my coordination as a commercial salmon troller. But the more I read, the more I became concerned that we would be stealing someone else’s team, and that city is being manipulated the same way Seattle was manipulated by the NBA and greedy owners. I thought it was shameful that Key arena was supposedly useless after about a decade. I was also appalled they blew up the kingdome when it was still very useful. I do not pretend to be an expert on either of these issues, and so maybe I don’t fully understand the reasons behind those two happenings, but just viewing them from a distance, I have to say, “WTF, over”

    Seattle has always had a frugal side that is admirable. Century 21 (the world’s fair) was one of the few such events which turned a profit. They made it profitable by being frugal. And the KingDome was built on the cheap, cheap, cheap…..peanuts by today’s standard. Though I am socially liberal, I am Mr. Frugality. Seattle is wise to remain frugal. Live within a budget, and polish its pennies.

    I hope they haven’t been too influenced by the Starbucks $5.00 latte drinking crowd. I have two sisters who belong. They eat nothing but organic food, and earn a bunch and spend every dime.

  • Soggyblogger

     The funniest part of this whole saga is the tactics being used by the pro arena people, starting with Steve Kelly who publicly called anyone who is skeptical “whiners”. Others call us “anti-sports” and we must have been “the last two chosen for teams as a child….” It is an interesting study in how taking a side in a debate tends to petrify entrenched positions. Once a person takes a position publicly, they tend to become more and more strident in defense of that position, which often finds its way to insults and de-humanizing the opposition.

    I began with a healthy hopeful openness to this idea. I hang around sport blogs because I actually enjoy watching sports. I played sports as a child, and actually make a living with my coordination as a commercial salmon troller. But the more I read, the more I became concerned that we would be stealing someone else’s team, and that city is being manipulated the same way Seattle was manipulated by the NBA and greedy owners. I thought it was shameful that Key arena was supposedly useless after about a decade. I was also appalled they blew up the kingdome when it was still very useful. I do not pretend to be an expert on either of these issues, and so maybe I don’t fully understand the reasons behind those two happenings, but just viewing them from a distance, I have to say, “WTF, over”

    Seattle has always had a frugal side that is admirable. Century 21 (the world’s fair) was one of the few such events which turned a profit. They made it profitable by being frugal. And the KingDome was built on the cheap, cheap, cheap…..peanuts by today’s standard. Though I am socially liberal, I am Mr. Frugality. Seattle is wise to remain frugal. Live within a budget, and polish its pennies.

    I hope they haven’t been too influenced by the Starbucks $5.00 latte drinking crowd. I have two sisters who belong. They eat nothing but organic food, and earn a bunch and spend every dime.