BY Art Thiel 09:51PM 05/02/2016

Thiel: Seattle’s priorities end Hansen’s arena

Council president Bruce Harrell thinks the national conversation about income inequality played an unspoken part in five council members supporting hypothetical job losses instead of a hypothetical NBA team.

Chris Hansen in 2012, in more optimistic times / City of Seattle

For sports fans reeling from the 5-4 vote by the Seattle City Council Tuesday that denied Chris Hansen the street vacation he sought for his arena in Sodo, ending his pursuit of public funding help, Bruce Harrell has an explanation. The council president was talking from a figurative 30,000 feet, but he is wise about the Seattle political culture.

By phone, Harrell was interviewed by Dave Mahler on 950 KJR radio less than 90 minutes after a dramatic, poignant afternoon civics lesson in council chambers.

Harrell, whose advocacy for the return of the NBA dates to his no vote in 2008 against the $45 million settlement the city accepted that let the Sonics flee to Oklahoma City, and continued with a yes vote Tuesday, admitted to yet another political disappointment and was “walking it off.”

Harrell, a former University of Washington football star, then answered a question about the largest factor that decided the outcome:

“Consider the national mood right now. I don’t expect your listeners to follow all of the presidential debates about income inequality, but there’s an ongoing conversation about those that have a lot — the Chris Hansens of the world — and those that do not.

“There’s a strong political push to make sure that port jobs and labor jobs come to the forefront of the conversation. When people realize there’s $200 million (the county/city bond loans) going into the professional sports business, where athletes are millionaires and fans have discretionary money to attend, there’s a mood that that is not the priority of the city. The priority of the city are people who are losing out on income equality.

“Consciously or subconsciously, it sets the stage for the political debate. That’s the larger issue. While that’s not talked about at city hall or on the street, that’s in the back of minds that governs the front of their reactions.”

That is as concise and accurate an explanation as can be found regarding why Hansen’s plan that began in 2011 and survived all manner of preposterousness (remember the 2013 pursuit of the Sacramento Kings? The NBA vote to deny relocation? The influence peddling by Hansen that broke California law? The bailout by partner Steve Ballmer to buy another team from its racist owner?), only to die on the civic steps of the town where he was born and raised.

Led by Sally Bagshaw, the four other women on the council — Lisa Herbold, Lorena Gonzalez, Kshama Sawant and Debora Juarez — decided in favor of the have-nots. The four men — Harrell, Tim Burgess, Rob Johnson and Mike O’Brien — sided with the Hansen plan.

In this case, the have-nots were perceived to be job-holders in the maritime/industrial workforce, even though there is no such business within the footprint of Hansen’s arena, nor was there in the five years of lamentation and documentation by the Port of Seattle and the longshore union any direct projection of a single job loss caused by a third sports venue in Sodo.

The port’s business has been shrinking for years, so much so that the port finally decided to team up with its longtime rival, the Port of Tacoma, to form the Northwest Seaport Alliance, in order stay in the fast-changing container game.  But none of the myriad national and global factors compromising POS’s economic future — the advent of super-giant container ships, the widening of the Panama Canal, etc. — was mentioned Tuesday.

The closest anyone came to the bigger picture was when Sawant drew a distinction between the port and its workers. As a self-identified socialist, she was all in favor of keeping middle-class jobs, but she eviscerated the port by resurrecting a decade-old quote from then-U.S. Attorney Mike McKay, who described the port as “a cesspool of corruption.”

But Sawant said the greater good was served by preserving port jobs. Her sentiment was echoed in some form by her fellow nay-sayers, who evoked the port’s long history, traditions and contributions.

Juarez even dragged out the old chestnut: “You can always build an arena anywhere. You can’t build another deepwater port.”

No matter how uncertain the port’s future, that simple expression probably swung some council sentiment, along with the steady stream of appearances at every council meeting  by longshoremen, truckers and other business people affiliated with freight movement. They couldn’t prove the threat, but they spoke with conviction, and that was enough.

Sonics fans had a desire. Port workers identified a need.

That speaks to Harrell’s point — the liberal political sensibility of the big city is reflected in the makeup of the council, which spends most of its time allocating its resources to people in need. Agree or disagree, that’s how it’s been for about 20 years now.

Harrell’s reference to income inequality is spot on. It’s providing much of the fuel for the presidential campaigns Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

If the Mariners or Seahawks needed today the same public help for stadium construction they received in the 1990s, when thefeds and some local governments had budget surpluses, they would be turned down flat.

That said, the city walks away from the best deal ever provided Seattle by a sports-venue developer. To win approval, Hansen kept adding features and public amenities costing collectively more than $100 million. He said yes to nearly every improvement suggested by a council member seeking to please a constituency.

The deal is so good for the public side that Hansen probably can’t attract a private equity partner for an NHL franchise. The hockey billionaire likely would look at the commitments and ask Hansen, “Are you crazy?”

In the end, Hansen hasn’t provided what the project most needed — an NBA team. He needed the street vacation first, but five council members were hung up on one concept: The team was hypothetical, not assured. Council member Tim Burgess mildly scolded his colleagues, saying that anyone looking for a guarantee of a team is “dealing in fantasy.”

The irony is that the team is as hypothetical as are the port’s claimed job losses due to the arena location.

Faced with a choice between two unknowables, five council members chose to side with the have-nots. Any why not? They were the ones who elected them.

Pity that in a city as affluent as Seattle, a way could not be found to accommodate both sides. Bellevue probably doesn’t have two sides. Or Tukwila. The Chris Hansens of the world, as Harrell described them, may be more welcome there.

 


YourThoughts

  • PokeyPuffy

    It does not sound like this issue was resolved on its merits. So surprising,this NEVER happens in Seattle, damn blasted politics!

  • Tom G.

    Tukwila or Bellevue.

    That’s where any arena is going, and probably SHOULD go, if one gets built.

    I’ve had enough of the “Seattle Process”.

    • bugzapper

      I’ve had enough of 520 bridge tolls.

      • jafabian

        Get ready for I405 and I5 tolls.I

      • mjoecups

        Don’t be a whiner! pay it or go around.

        • bugzapper

          I do. But I’ve already paid for that bridge once.

    • art thiel

      As sports owners in LA and SF have discovered, the pursuit of even partial public funding is no longer worth it.

      • Tom G.

        Even if public funding wasn’t involved here though, I’m EXTREMELY skeptical about how accommodating they’d be towards cutting red tape. This time it was the Port and the Mariners who were protesting in SODO, and next time at Key (or Memorial Stadium) it’d be groups like the Gates Foundation (like you’ve said before).

        Hence why I’d rather just see something happen in the suburbs right now.

        Waiting for Seattle government to accommodate sports fans in any way is just a perpetual fruitless exercise.

        • art thiel

          Can’t argue any of that.

      • mjoecups

        What a joke? Are you serious? These Rich thugs have siphoned billions from the coffers of our communities, only to enrich themselves and there buddies. Now we are supposed to just keep shoveling the cash?

        I love basketball, and the Sonics have a rich history and a great fanbase. Pro sports teams need to pay their own way.

  • 1coolguy

    Incredibly short-sighted. The 5 “nays” will forever be grouped together with the “most hated” in local sports circles, as of today, with Behring and Schultz, a true induction into the Hall of Shame, Charter Members.
    It was already shown this street is not used by Port traffic whatsoever. The hours of traffic are typically after 6PM, which should minimize conflict with the Port.
    Was there ever an estimate of the INCREASE in sales taxes and property taxes that would be collected from the arena?
    How about the JOBS from construction and then the long-term, permanent jobs created?
    This is a 21st century arena, not the now budget, inadequate Key Arena, which is akin to comparing Safeco Field to the Kingdome.
    It also tells me these council members have not invested the time on these matters pointed out but also have not visited comparable existing arena’s, in order to understand the magnitude and multiple uses of such an arena.
    Wow, this is truly shocking.
    Question: if Hanson were to line up ALL financing so that the $200M is not guaranteed by the city, would one of the “nays” be amenable?
    This is where Harrell needs to get busy and show his leadership. Frankly, I am amazed he didn’t postpone the meeting if he didn’t have the votes. Very basic.

    • eYeDEF

      Sadly, I really don’t see the blowback towards the council members. When the Sonics were first driven out of town there was one uncompromising politician that seemed to relish driving them out of town, speaker of the House Frank Chopp. No one seems to remember and he’s still at his job.

      • art thiel

        True dat. Many more people than sports fans don’t want public resources in the sports industry.

    • Topcatone

      Not sure he could know some of the votes ahead of time. Hansen very good on the details so I’m sure he did the best he could. It was a political decision (need for votes) not based on logic or what is good for the city or for jobs or inequality. What helps inequality is JOBs, which would have been gained.

      • MrPrimeMinister

        Street hot dog vendors? No thanks we have plenty of those.

      • art thiel

        Actually, the arena jobs are mostly part-time service sector. Negligible impact on a Seattle-sized economy. Non factor in the argument.

        • 1coolguy

          Quit being so honest Art – it was a trial balloon for the “Sawant’s” out there. Haha

      • 1coolguy

        Harrell, as the Clowncil president, should have polled the members this past week to determine the outcome. That’s “how it’s done” and is what you do in that position. If it is not what the leader wants, then he either persuades that one person he needs or delays the meeting to keep working on it.

    • art thiel

      SeaTimes reported Monday that Mayor Murray learned Feb. 1 of council’s intent to postpone, and insisted the arena be put on the agenda.

      Regarding the Hall of Shame . . . um, no. Politicians generally do what gets them re-elected. I would bet that a majority of voters in the five constituencies agreed with the no vote.

      Gotta step out of the sport bubble once in a while.

      • 1coolguy

        So the 4 guys’ decided their constituents were pro-arena? I don’t know, I’d like to think they believe the arena in this location is the most sensible option. If the women are all controlled by whether they will be re-elected, then that’s a real shame.
        A politician must have the make-up to do what’s right for the beneift of the city, not what’s popular att he time. This was a vote to impact Seattle’s well-being for the next what, 40+ years or longer?
        This is the “stadium district” for a reason and Seattle MUST get over the inadequate Key Arena and it’s location.
        What was Murray’s position on this?

        • art thiel

          Consider the rookieness of some council members. This was their first pressurized public test. The port is an intimidating force to go up against in the first time. To them, Hansen was a rich guy with a controversial, hypothetical idea.

          • mjoecups

            Not just to them, that is really what he is. Hypothetical is the key word.

  • Guy K. Browne

    Disappointing for sure, but what were the chances that Hansen was ever going to land a team? It’s seemed to me that once Stern was “Bronx-cheered” out of Olympia, there wasn’t/isn’t a snowballs chance in H-E-double toothpicks that Seattle was ever going to be allowed back into the baggy shorts club. The NBA made that very clear in the Sacramento non-deal as the NBA brass stepped so hard on that deal that Hansen still has footprints on his back. Would have been nice if the Sonics had been afforded the same protections but the Olympia treatment of Stern greased the skids out of town. Sadly, we’ll all likely be worm food before the NBA comes back to Seattle.

    • eYeDEF

      Stern’s no longer in charge of the NBA commish. His successor Adam Silver was on record saying he’d like to see bball back in Seattle. If Hansen could have built an arena, the NBA would have awarded a franchise. Not going to happen now.

      • Guy K. Browne

        I think we’re all aware that Stern is no longer the commissioner. We are also aware that Silver was hand picked by Stern to carry out his grudge/mission. What Silver says publicly is to keep the NBA from getting sued: Seattle isn’t getting a franchise while anyone remotely related to Stern is the commissioner. The convenient truth to sell this agenda to the ownership group is, that by having Seattle vacant, political pressure can be exerted on any city that balks at publicly funding a new arena (a fact that Art Thiel has expressed many times). In that regard, Hansen has been a valuable pawn in this game as a “new arena is being built”. Now that this is an unlikely scenario, some of the teeth have been removed from this play.

        • eYeDEF

          I don’t find that narrative believable. Silver is commish now, there’s nothing that beholdens him to Stern that compels him to carry out Stern’s agenda while carrying on his predecessor’s personal grudges. There’d be no reason to stoop to such pettiness of carrying Stern’s water at the expense of interfering with his responsibility as commish to stay open and flexible to changing situations. He doesn’t answer to Stern. It’s just not believable that Silver would hang Hansen out to dry indefinitely if he had an arena all built and refuse to grant him a franchise to play in it. Hansen had nothing to do with Stern’s issues with Seattle. It was the legislators he had a problem with because they wouldn’t help fund a new stadium. And if Hansen had a new stadium built with the blessings of public officials, that naturally circumvents any rationale for Stern harboring animosity in the first place. But again, Stern is no longer in charge.

      • art thiel

        Whenever a commissioner in any sport opens his mouth, expect dissembling, prevarication and obfuscation.

    • art thiel

      Hansen may well be on the outs with the NBA. We’ll find out soon whether others will step up with a plan if Hansen steps aside.

  • SEAallday206

    Moral of the story is if you are honest and offer to compromise with those that you are working with, you are going to end up getting screwed over in Seattle.

    • Comrade Suge

      Oh please, moral of this story is: read the political situation before going forward. Hansen should have seen this coming.

      • EmeraldCity

        Seriously? He should have anticipated what was decided by by a 5-4 vote based on a political landscape that has changed drastically since the deal was first struck?

        • art thiel

          Emerald, you win the debate point. My understanding is that votes changed in the final 24 hours, deciding a 3.5 year old topic.

          Many things have changed since 2012, include much of Seattle.

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  • jafabian

    Not terribly surprising. A lot of this is on the NBA. They’ve done nothing but flip the bird at Seattle. If the NBA truly wanted this to happen someone like Commissioner Silver would have spoken to the council before their vote. At best he said “maybe” last week without singling out Seattle. Vancouver, Las Vegas and Kansas City already have arenas that meet “NBA standards” and have no team to speak of. This would be an expensive proposition to build for a “maybe” down the road from the NBA. There’s cities ahead of Seattle wanting an NBA team. There’s no guarantee that Seattle can jump ahead of them.

    The NBA needs to reach out and they won’t because they believe Seattle doesn’t support professional sports since they won’t allow public funds to go to sports arenas. That’s partly why they don’t like Hansen’s proposal. If he funds everything that sets a new standard that they don’t want. I do like that Hansen stated later he needs to rework his proposal to satisfy the City Council more. Can’t just complain, do something about it instead.

    Seattle will always be the example for the NBA to other cities that don’t play ball. And as long as Clay Bennett heads the relocation committee no team will move here.

    • art thiel

      The NBA will contend it was Seattle that first flipped the bird, when Stern went to Olympia in 06 and Frank Chopp told him to drop dead.

      • Josh Belzman

        That’s certainly true but it still boggles my mind that the NBA remains so thin-skinned that it doesn’t see how Seattle’s fortunes have changed since ’06. This is the fastest growing city and one of the most affluent. Expanding here would bring high ticket prices, concessions, and profit sharing to benefit the whole league, not to mention create a further bridge to Asia’s fanbase. Are they really that sour on what a legislature did 10 years ago that they can’t just say expansion in the right market (read Seattle) is a priority? Then again, maybe it’s not, and they see bigger gains in continuing to pit midsize markets against each other and using Hansen or the next rich dope as a pawn in their extortion game. I’m not sure who deserves the blame more for the fact that I can’t just go to a game in my own city: the damned NBA or the damned local leaders who both find every reason and opportunity to piss each other off time and again, while the rest of us who might forgive and move on pay the price.

        • art thiel

          I would never say never. Time passes. People die. But it was clear Monday that this market’s politicians do not bend to sports leagues the way politicians do in other places — Oklahoma City, f’rinstance. Remember, sports are a luxury, not a necessity, at least to most people.

      • jafabian

        IIRC, Frank had valid points. The NBA was going thru labor issues and he pointed that that because of that shouldn’t they have been focusing on taking care of that? Add to that that Key Arena was renovated only 11 years prior with city bonds backed by the city and the city arranged for Key Bank to kick in $15 mil a year that was pretty daring to start asking for a new arena. I’m confident Stern and Bennett knew Olympia would say no so they could start the moving process.

        On a sidenote, Clay Bennett proposed a new arena in Renton at the tune of $500 million. Chesapeake Energy Arena, the home of the Thunder, was built in 2002 at a cost of $89 million. I’m sure the City Council is aware of that disparity.

        • art thiel

          I’ve never said Chopp didn’t have his reasons. But the way he curtly dismissed Stern was never forgotten. Many others besides me have called Stern petty and vindictive.

          But even if Chopp were polite, Stern was getting nothing from the post-Eyman legislature.

          • jafabian

            Do you view Stern as have gotten worse in his public communications in later years of his term? In the 80′s and 90′s he could wine and dine politicians and play their game. Arenas like the Rose Garden, Palace In Auburn Hills, United Center and Bankers Life Fieldhouse were popping up everywhere. Since 2000 he’s become snide, arrogant and as you said, petty and vindictive. The comments he’s made during the Seattle arena process show nothing but disdain for the situation and he seemed to enjoy taking subtle shots at the whole thing. For someone who is to represent the NBA’s best interests in the past 10 years that seemed to have been the case and for whatever reason the owners never called him on it. Makes me want Peter Ueberroth as the new commish.

  • MrPrimeMinister

    I am sure Chris will be fine. That land he bought years ago is now worth tens of millions more than what he paid.

    • bugzapper

      “I’m sure Paul Allen will be fine. All that land we could have used for a Commons park is now worth ten of millions more than what he paid. Maybe he can sell it to Jeff Bezos some day.”

      “I’m sure Seattle’s transportation infrastructure will be fine. Besides, Atlanta is thoroughly enjoying the light rail system we could have had 40 years ago if we hadn’t voted down Forward Thrust.”

      Don’t let the trees get in the way of your forest.

      • MarkS

        Yes people voted against the Commons because they feared gentrification of that area. SLU was still gentrified but no park.

        I expect Sodo will be likewise in a decade or two.

  • Jeff Shope

    Told ya seattle is infested with socialist tools who hate sports. and the Mariners and the port suck

    • Comrade Suge

      Who are you talking to?

    • bugzapper

      Speaking of tools…

      • SLinSeattle

        You seriously can’t be denying that this is a socialist city…..

        • Comrade Suge

          What’s wrong with socialism? Do you believe in paying for your own roads?

          • Paul Forkner

            The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.

            -Margaret Thatcher

        • bugzapper

          Define “socialism” and “socialist.” Also define “Socialism.” I can’t confirm or deny anything until I know what you mean.

        • art thiel

          Until the city commandeers Amazon’s revenues, no. Liberal? Of course.

    • notaboomer

      socialist boeing is particularly notable.

  • bugzapper

    Income inequality will never be solved by a vote on a street vacation. Especially in Seattle. Prime example: The pols in this town keep wringing their hands at the massive homelessness here, but the same clutch of double-speakers, and their DPD charges, continues to allow the destruction of affordable housing while developer profiteers have a field day. I guess some uber-rich are more privileged than others around here.

    Maybe Hansen should have offered to include 250 “market rate” condos on the top level, with sweeping views of the Sound. You know….so guys like this asshole could enjoy the finer things Seattle has to offer:

    http://www.seattletimes.com/pacific-nw-magazine/watching-the-world-go-by-from-his-lake-union-penthouse/

    While we’re on the subject of following the money let’s not forget how most of these Council nay-sayers gained their Seats of Denial. Bagshaw, in particular, was superbly funded by entrenched special interests, despite being dumb as a bag of hammers. She’s morphed into “Jan Drago of the 21st Century,” well-connected to the well-heeled. She just happens to hate sports (I presume).

    Well, male pro sports, anyway. Wonder how the Gang of Five would have voted if the future of the Storm had been on the line.

    • art thiel

      I doubt any of council members were planning to solve income inequality with this vote. But it symbolized an issue that would appear to go against the the sentiments of most of their supporters.

      And in the same meeting, council advanced the housing levy to the ballot. A no-brainer, yes, and no forgiveness for duplicitous behavior elsewhere, but this I don’t quite think this a group of total nincompoopers.

      But your question about the Storm is a dandy.

    • MarkS

      Well said. Sad to say many in Seattle say they want to help the homeless so long as they don’t get too close to their fancy condos.

  • Comrade Suge

    Who cares, we’ve gone 8 years without a team and we can go 80. Nobody really cared (other than a bunch of diehards) when they left and quite frankly, these council members will not be affected negatively by this. I hate to break it to y’all, most people around here don’t really care. As for Hansen, he should have realized it was going to be difficult and picked a different location, that one I put on him.

    • rosetta_stoned

      Five pols with their heads up their backsides and you blame the guy who tried to accommodate them. Good one.

      • Comrade Suge

        How are their heads up in the backside? Usually these votes go through easily, the fact it didn’t tells you he didn’t do his homework.

        • Pixdawg13

          I think it tells us that 5 women didn’t do theirs.

        • Nicholas Rose

          It was a different political landscape when Hansen started this process, with a more amenable Council and a Mayor who was bullish on the idea, so to say Hansen should have seen this coming is akin to asking him to be a fortune teller or soothsayer. As to whether the council members will be affected by it, they most certainly will. Sawant was able to get the votes she needed by backing the Save Our Sonics and Sonics Arena groups and fans. Those 5 women just lost the votes of thousands of “die-hards,” as you call them. They also killed future political support if they go out of Seattle City Council for state postitions, because I guarantee every one of the Sonics supporters will remember the names Sally Bagshaw, Lisa Herbold, Lorena Gonzalez, Kshama Sawant and Debora Juarez and will never vote for them for any office. 5 people decided the fate of a franchise with 41 years of history, including the first championship in the region by a major sports team, for an entire region that includes people outside of the city of Seattle who are powerless to sway a vote, and even outside the state of Washington with no factual evidence to back their leanings other than placating the Port of Seattle’s completely unfounded claims of job losses. This would have been the best Public/Private partnership in professional sports history, created more jobs, cleaned up more of Sodo making it a nicer place with increased property values and taxes that could have helped the city to fund other civic needs.

          • MrPrimeMinister

            What franchise? How many times must this be said. There is no franchise! It’s in ok city.

          • Nicholas Rose

            Speaking in generalization to the term franchise, that being the hope of one returning and the fact that the city of Seattle still holds the rights to the history and name.

          • art thiel

            Mr PM is hung up on semantics.

          • art thiel

            I’m thinking that as much as sports fans will be one-issue voters, many more voters who elected the council members support the decision. Sports fans tend to have a misshapen view of their occupancy of the world.

        • art thiel

          Hansen did his homework. He couldn’t predict the makeup of the council that succeeded the 2012 group that signed the MOU.

    • Falsk Konto

      Don’t kid yourself that it was only “die-hards” that feel the loss. I’m not a huge basketball fan, but I enjoyed watching them in the winters. I don’t follow the NBA passionately, but I’ll get together with my buddies and root for my city’s team.

    • art thiel

      Many people care, but more don’t care to subsidize with tax dollars, even if it is a loan. And Hansen knew it was tough. He came within a single vote.

  • Tian Biao

    I just don’t see how the closure of one small street, plus some ball games and concerts, would affect the port operations in any significant way, given that there are options and fixes that would smooth the flow of truck traffic. the failure to find a compromise is the most annoying aspect of this. I get the impression, from reading various articles about this, including Art’s, that some of the council members were poorly informed. the explanation above is very broad, ie, haves and have-nots, and broad fuzzy concepts like that should not guide these very specific decisions.

    • Topcatone

      Agree. HOW will port jobs be lost? And, the arena would ADD (at least temporarily) tons of building jobs and construction spending. Then, later, the operational staff jobs, nearby restaurant jobs etc. No, this was all politics, all the way (votes). Hansen bent way over backwards, and the public funding part is a LOAN to be re-paid by the concessions. Very very short sighted by Seattle. Huge mistake. No city in the USA has probably ever had an offer like Hansens. I might be a bit upset still because the port worker’s strike did great harm to the WA state economy, impacting thousands of businesses and caused many many people to LOSE their jobs because of the worker greediness. Hansen as worked with everyone to get buy in and good situations for all, and I’m sure he would have worked with the port to make sure there were no transportation issues.

    • SLinSeattle

      IT WOULDN’T. And as far as I know, there was ZERO evidence that it would.

    • art thiel

      You’re right about a compromise. But the port has come out on the short end before with promises from the city. I get the defensiveness.

  • rosetta_stoned

    Class warfare as a way to end an arena plan. That’s Seattle for ya.

    • art thiel

      Class warfare seems to start and end just about everything, yes?

  • tor5

    After reading Art and some well informed posts, I came to believe that the Hansen deal was a good one. But I have to say that it’s awfully hard to shake the memory of David Stern’s sanctimonious lectures to Seattle while being so pathetically seduced by the scourge of Clay Bennett. So there’s a part of me that’s sad, and a part of me that’s proud that we’re not licking NBA boots. (I know, call me petty…)

    • SLinSeattle

      I completely get that. This city should have all the major sport franchises. We have great fans. We’re relatively affluent. But I don’t support licking boots either, and I have less affection for the NBA than ANY other pro league, by a long shot. The NBA certainly has ZERO allegiance to and appreciation for its fans, that’s quite clear — despite how rich they are. Pretty sad.

      Come on, NHL, make it happen! You’d do better here anyway with no NBA franchise to compete with!

      • art thiel

        Bettman served at the foot of Stern for many years. He may not take Seattle’s attitude as personally, but he is no less ravenous when it comes to having things his way. That’s how monopolies work.

      • zigzags

        It’s pretty sad that a city like Phoenix, with a population largely made up of transplants who don’t have a local rooting interest, has 4 major sports teams, NASCAR, PGA Tour events, NCAA bowl games, NCAA tournament games, etc. etc.

        Meanwhile, Seattle has a rabidly loyal fanbase and yet only 2 major sports teams. Soccer and the WNBA doesn’t qualify as major (sorry), and we only get a brief glimpse at any of those other events every once in a blue moon (NCAA first round games, and the US Open last year).

        Just a shame.

        • kalaloch

          I had season tickets for the final several years of the Sonics in Seattle. Frankly, I never felt, nor do I feel now, that Seattle is much of a basketball town. The fans were lethargic, seats were empty, side conversations were rampant. Not a lot of enthusiasm.

    • art thiel

      A fair sentiment, tor. If you want what Stern has, you have to obey. If you don’t, Stern will take it away and keep it away.

      Many join you in the pleasure of telling the NBA to shove it.

  • SLinSeattle

    Great work once again, Art. Quite the on-going saga….

    • art thiel

      Thanks for noticing.

  • Comrade Suge

    Building those new stadiums have done wonders for Detroit.

    • jafabian

      How so?

    • bugzapper

      Snark alert. ;)

      Come on, bruh, it’s Detroit. The place has been a hell hole for decades. You can’t pin that on their stadiums.

      • art thiel

        I think the lead in Flint’s water is attributable to Rodman’s time as a Piston.

    • SEAallday206

      Detroit also filed for bankruptcy. I don’t think they should have but they went on to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the Red Wings.

  • Comrade Suge

    A lot of you are complaining about the political views of the council. Hate to break it to you but they represent the views of Seattle. You’re the one’s who represent the minority view. If you don’t like it, shut up.

    • bugzapper

      To be more accurate, they represent the majority of those who voted for them in their particular districts, and city-wide for the two at-large positions. The two at-large reps split their votes.

      • art thiel

        And I bet the majority of voters in the five districts supported the no vote.

        • Jill Beck

          Actually many people in O’Brien’s district supported a no vote. He just never listens to constituents outside of the special interests he cares about. Go look at his latest blog post on his council page and the comments there.

  • MrPrimeMinister

    The coding metrosexuals who have so recently invaded our fine city prefer soccer to basketball. There is no market for nba here.

    • Nicholas Rose

      I wouldn’t go that far. I love Soccer, it’s my favorite sport, but I would give just about anything to have the Sonics back. I can’t remember the last time I was more angry or disappointed than after yesterday’s jokeshow at the Seattle City Council.

      • art thiel

        Actually, Seattle gave birth to many you ascribe to invasion. And there’s a market for just about everything here. The tipping point is whether you have tolerance for paying Danny Fortson or Jerome James five mil a year to foul out in 10 minutes.

  • Carol Alfonso

    Remember them in November! The Sonics left in 2008, so the voters ousted the “Nickelsville Mayor”. Time to oust the council members that choose to side with the Ports Authority moguls and the new Mariners ownership that hates the NBA/NHL, but gets money from MLB! That’s how Nintendo got screwed! GAME OVER!

    • art thiel

      Don’t like the idea of one-issue voters. Especially if the issue is sports and not a substantive policy subject.

  • woofer

    The backup plan for Hansen’s property is to develop a coal port. It might be a bit dirty, but it promises lots of jobs.

    • art thiel

      Now you’re thinking. Because if we don’t exploit coal, we’re going to be fracking natural gas out of the Seattle Center grounds.

      • woofer

        You want to be real careful up there at Seattle Center. If they catch you fracking around, you might get Chihulyed.

    • SEAallday206

      He could really do this city a favor by clearing out that land, setting up a new tent city and opening up a needle exchange program for the homeless that are living in the Jungle. Need to add bike lanes as well. THAT is the Seattle way

  • Get ‘em dawgies

    Good article, Art. As a guy that was born here, raised here, currently raising my own family here, have read your articles for as long as I can remember, and a Seattle-anything diehard, it saddens me to say my infatuation and love of my city is waning. It’s not the same city I remember, doesn’t seem as special, doesn’t seem like the jewel I always viewed it to be. Too many issues, too much change (Amazon?), over-priced, and Seattle’s kill-me-with-a-spoon leftist process absolutely kills me. This vote drives all of these feelings home. Seattle’s not a great city anymore. Way to a blow a $1 billion dollar gift.

  • SEAallday206

    The most frustrating part about this entire situation is despite all of the research, analysis, compromise, negotiations and fan support, all it took was the Port of Seattle to repeat the line that this arena is going to cost people jobs.

    I hope Chris Hansen sells that land to the Port or the M’s at well over market value and turns a profit after seeing all of the crap he has put himself through. I hope he doesn’t throw in the towel but I don’t blame him one bit.

    SCC just passed on the best arena deal they are ever going to see because there is no way in hell that another prospective ownership group is going to put themselves through that political gauntlet.

    • mjoecups

      Trying to get public money. Pay for it yourself if you want ANOTHER new arena.

      • SEAallday206

        It really doesn’t matter at this point. You’re crowd got what you wanted and you likely won’t have to worry about debating a basketball arena in Seattle during your lifetime. the lliklihood of a private investor offering to pay for everything and going through Seattles political gauntlet for anything involving sports is extremely unlikely.

  • bugzapper
  • Paul Harmening

    Sigh! Time to move forward and enjoy what we do have.

    RIP Sonics

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  • Kings Fan

    I feel bad for your guys. I know what your going through but I finally got the Rams back.