(Part 1 of a Series)
So let me preface this. I have no inside information. I know nothing, have talked to no one I reference and have absolutely no reason to believe any of what I am going to write is going to happen. It’s purely a wild speculation that will be fun to look back on if 10% of it comes true.
The overarching point is this: Bellevue is going to get an NBA and NHL team, and it’s going to start playing around 2015. Here are some details of this ridiculous notion.
1) The rich people who want an NBA team back here have figured out how to change the conversation. They are working to change the question from, “Should we or shouldn’t we have a World Class arena” to “Should our World Class Arena be in Seattle or Bellevue.” It’s a fantastic tactic. Get two equally powerful groups to wage a battle against each other.
2) Once you convince Bellevue that Seattle wants an Arena, the politicians in Bellevue start making things happen. It’s a once in a century opportunity that people with power can’t pass up. Seattle is at best in a plateau, and possibly declining in economic importance. Bellevue has Microsoft, Expedia, a financial district, a huge shopping district, and the chance to recruit over any of the major tech companies with small offices in Seattle. Insert a world class arena and you could make an argument that we call the region Seattle-Tacoma-Eastside. It could even be considered like the Twin Cities. Bellevue will do its part to make the Arena happen for the promise of concerts, the Republican National Convention, the Democratic National Convention, NCAA Sweet 16 games, the NCAA Women’s Final 4, NHL All-Star game and all the Justin Bieber you can take.
3) Now the mechanics. Let’s pick Anschutz Entertainment Group as the private sponsor who recognizes that a privately funded arena, backed by an Entertainment Group, can be hugely profitable. So Arena issue solved, provided they get tenants.
4) Tenant 1: The Tampa Bay Lightning move to Seattle. The Lightning were recently bought by a Harvard Biz School Investment Banker Jeffrey Vinik. Investment bankers keep score in dollar signs. And the CEO and minority owner of the Lighting is former Seahawks CEO Tod Liewicki. He knows this area. He’s bringing the team back here to share the spotlight with…
5) Tenant 2: Everyone knows this one. Steve Balmer leads the ownership group of the new NBA team. This happens once David Stern announces his retirement. Once the new guy steps in, he’ll need to make a bold move that gets his regime off on the right foot. And what would make him more popular with owners than to rip out a franchise that is losing money (ie the Hornets) and make the owners a bunch of money by selling it to a big city in a new arena with a Billionaire owner. Easy win.
6) A small thing to consider: The new light rail through Bellevue hits all the major MSFT headquarters, with a mysterious loop through a dead region of Bel-Red. Welcome to the future home of the new stadium.
That’s all I have towards this for now. More ideas to come later…