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April 16, 2007

Sonics Owners Foul Out at the Buzzer

The Sonics ownership failed to win a boost for it's new digs, at taxpayer expense. Majority Leader Lynn Kessler determined there wasn't enough support to bring the issue before a full vote of the House. So now the Sonics are whining and moaning that they will have to move the franchise to Oklahoma City -- which, of course, is what they planned all along.

"This a staggering and quite likely a debilitating blow to our efforts to develop a world-class arena facility. Clearly at this time the Sonics and Storm have little hope of remaining in the Puget Sound region," owner Clay Bennett said in a statement.

After a meeting between the governor and House and Senate leaders Monday evening, it was apparent that the Sonics' proposal did not have enough support to pass.

Enough with this "world class" ridiculousness. It was former Sonics owner and eternal Starbuck's magnate Howard Schultz's egomania and petulance that led Seattle's voters to overwhelmingly reject the multimillion dollar subsidy by a whopping 74%. The die had been cast last fall, and Bennett and his buddies didn't have a chance.

But it isn't only Washington's citizens that are sick of subsidizing corporations, and it isn't only about sports stadiums either. The legislators had their lunches stuffed down their throats in 2003 when our triangulatingly ineffectual governor, Gary Locke, worked out his $45 million secret deal with Boeing over the assembly of the 787 Dreamliner -- and this was after Boeing had already shafted the state by moving its headquarters to Chicago. The legislators gave the company its $3.2 billion B&O tax break, but they were totally kept out of the loop about Locke's behind-the-scenes machinations (which included a clause to black-out pertinent documents and prevented future legislatures from rescinding the secret deal). Memories are long, and lessons are learned. Fool me once... well, you know the story. But Senator Margarita Prentice is, inexplicably, still mewing about how we need to craft a Sonics deal before the October deadline.

Now the pressing problem for the Sonics is how to get out of a nearly iron-clad contract that keeps them in the Key Arena until 2010. We're still paying off the stadium remodel completed just a few short years ago. Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis acknowledges the Sonics ownership hasn't been in touch, and the city's finance director, Dwight Dively, says the team will have to make up for revenue losses in ticket taxes, parking fees and luxury suites -- not to mention, business losses to restaurants and bars near the Key.

"The city would obviously want to be fully compensated for what we have had," said Dively, who declined to estimate the potential value of such losses.

Posted by shoephone on April 16, 2007 at 11:29 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink


I think these stadium hostage deals have been a successful scam because of addicted sports fans, but, thankfully, it appears that taxpayers/voters are wising up and saying, "take your stadium and shove it." Now if only the voters and taxpayers of the receiving municipality would wise up also (do we really want to subsidize these backstabbing bastards?), we might see sports franchises have to make it as going businesses, without sweetheart subsidies.

Posted by: op99 | Apr 17, 2007 6:16:02 PM

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