Talk about threading the eye of the needle….Wow.
Tech, Sports, Marketing, Politics, Start-ups: not always in that order.
Talk about threading the eye of the needle….Wow.
Sometimes you want something so bad, you forget to look at the total environment you are living in.
I’d love for Seattle to get a basketball team back. I love the energy the sports community would have if we had multiple teams to root for, multiple opportunities every year to feel playoff energy.
But I think I want the Hansen group to step back for a moment. We’ve done something that seemed unfathomable – We’ve given the Maloofs leverage.
On one side of the table, you have the Maloofs. By all accounts they seem to be business numbskulls who have managed to lose money in industries that it is fundamentally impossible to lose money in. They have put themselves into such a debt hole that the team realistically should not be alive anymore. Were it not for the NBA bailing them out, this team would have folded, and its players would be looking for new jobs.
On the other side of the table is the Hansen Group. A collective of gentlemen so wealthy that they are willing to overpay by as much as 25% just to get these guys to pick up a pen and disappear forever. It’s the equivalent of you or I paying our little sister a quarter to give us control of the Xbox and go away.
But now a new table has been pushed into the room, led by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. Johnson is the Mayor we wish we had in 2008. Someone who actually DOES something. He CARES. He is LOOKING OUT for his people, not because an economic study says to, but because he believes the Kings are part of the fabric of the City of Sacramento, and P&L Statments be damned, he doesn’t want that fabric ripped away.
So the battle has become Johnson vs Hansxn. In some ways it’s a rematch of Johnson vs Gary Payton, with KJ trying to keep Seattle from getting what it wants. Meanwhile the Maloofs are sitting courtside.
Thus, it’s time for Hansen and Johnson to call timeout.
Without a bid from Hansen on the table, Johnson doesn’t need to pull together a ridiculous package to get a new arena built. He doesn’t have to get investors to overpay to cover the costs of a team hemorrhaging money.
And more importantly, the Maloofs don;t have anymore leverage.
They will keep losing money and the NBA will keep having to bail them out and someone in New York will finally say, “We need to buy this team from these idiots or we need to call the loan in and fold them.”
Let the Maloofs sell what’s left of the team for pennies on the dollar back to the NBA. There is precedent here with the Hornets. Let the NBA take things over and get the Maloofs clear of the whole issue.
If there really is a local ownernship group in Sacramento who can make it work, and a way to build a stadium that won’t cost Sacramento or California tax dollars they need for things like schools and roads, then the team should stay there. If there isn’t, then the city has to accept that professional basketball is a luxury, not a right, and they need to get their house in order before they can have extra amenities. That’s not a basketball perspective, that is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
If they don’t have a real plan, then the NBA should sell that team to the Hansen Group. Tell me Mark Cuban and Paul Allen wouldn’t rather have Steve Ballmer sitting next to them at their exclusive Owners’ Meetings than the Maloofs.
But let’s let all that play out after we’ve rid the league of the Maloofs. And let’s get that done by not bidding against each other. Let’s all just stop the ridiculousness and get back to the point that the Maloof’s can’t afford to keep running things, and shouldn’t have any leverage. Let’s call a timeout, stop this momentum in the wrong direction, and draw up the right play to get the lead back.
No, we won’t get to cover everything listed in that lofty title.
But I want to comment briefly on the news a few weeks ago that the Gas Man, Mike Gastineau, left 950 KJR-AM after something like 21 years in Seattle. The Gas Man goes waaaaaaaayyyy back – all the way to the days of the Babe, the Groz, Wheels, New York Vinny and Michael Knight in the Morning.
Gas Man was a staple of my drive home diet for 15 years or so. I think he provided some of the most compelling sports interviews (except for the lame John Feinstein infomericals each week. “Oh really John, you published a new book 4 months ago? Tell us more!”)
So why did Gas Man have to leave?
Quite simply, if you like the Gas Man, blame the Man Man for forcing his exit.
Radio is dying. A 3rd sports radio station is coming to replace AM 1090 now that the election is over. And the Disney / ESPN money that got dropped into KIRO 710 basically has turned KJR into a 2nd fiddle.
Over at KJR, the big checks need to turn into small checks. And thus the cost of hosting content on drive time from 3-7pm went from Gas Man’s salary to Elise’s hourly wage.
I’m sure Gas Man could have taken a pay cut to stay. But who wants to do that? By the same token, Clear Channel could take a loss on a show to keep premier talent. So blame them for treating radio like a Google AdWords buy, looking for the best CPC.
So my meandering point is, thanks Gas Man for keeping me entertained – FOR FREE – for the last 15-20 years. I hope however this radio thing shakes out, we figure out how to keep talented people on the air.
This may sound a little like sour grapes, but it’s not. This is n’t a complaint, merely an observation.
Thanks to USC’s fall from dominance, the Pac-12 South is a very competitive race this year. You have two distinctly bad teams in Utah and Colorado, then 4 teams with a legitimate shot to play in the Pac-12 championship game – USC, UCLA, ASU and Arizona. So lets say they all sweep Utah and Colorado and everyone beats each other a couple of times in their other 3 games. That puts everyone one game within each other in the division games, and causes the 4 games versus the North to be the deciding factor.
Here’s where the unbalanced schedule plays a huge role. Up in the North, you also have 2 bad football programs, in WSU and Cal. But you have 2 teams who have spent time in the top 25 (Stanford and UW), one who has spent time in the top 10 (OSU) and 1 who is a National Championship contender (Oregon). The 4 teams you draw out of this group of 6 are hugely important.
So let’s look at the Pac 12 South teams contending for the title, and who they drew from the North:
Arizona: Oregon, OSU, Stanford, Washington
ASU: Cal, Oregon, OSU, WSU
UCLA: Cal, OSU, Stanford, WSU
USC: Cal, Oregon, Stanford, Washington
If you are a UCLA fan, you have to be excited that the Bruins are the only ones who don’t face Oregon. That’s 1 loss everyone else is getting that you won’t have. Not only do you miss Oregon, you GOT both WSU and Cal. So that’s 2 wins you should have gotten (but didn’t).
ASU probably netted out 2nd best. They get the Oregon loss, but they skip OSU and Washington. They should get at least 2 wins in the mix from WSU and Cal.
USC got a fairly tough road. They have to face Oregon, Stanford and Washington – all tough games, with only one respite – Cal.
Meanwhile, it’s the Arizona Wildcats who had to run the whole North Gauntlet, and they paid the price, finishing 1-3 against their Northern foes.
It’s a quandary every 12 team conference faces, so this isn’t sour grapes on my part. But here in Pac 10 country, we didn’t have this problem in past years. When you have 1 team that is an outlier for being uber talented, and a couple teams as outliers as under talented, it really makes for a giant wild card.
Many of you know, that I’ve been a partial Mariners season ticket holder since 1996, splitting great seats behind home plate with 5 other families.
Throughout the decade of losing, we’ve kept our seats, and I’ve kept my share. We know it’s a waste of money. We know they’ll be bad. We know that our September tickets will be worth pennies on the dollar. But we do it because we feel a sense of community with each other, our fellow season ticket holders and baseball overall. Like good passive aggressive Seattleites, we allow the team to roll out a sub-par product, grumble a little and renew no matter what.
There is now a straw being waved around and threatening to break the camel’s back.
It’s one thing for the Mariners to fight to keep an arena out of Sodo. It’s a little extreme, but I suppose still ok, for the Mariners to use the Seattle Times Editor in Chief to push anti-arena sentiment. But when the County and City Councils vote to approve the arena, it’s another whole thing whatsoever to sponsor a “citizen’s referendum” with the hopes that the simple delay of getting something on the ballot will force the Sacramento Kings to be sold to another city.
Here’ is the letter I asked the head of my season ticket group to send to his ticket representative. The upper executives of the Mariners do not care about you. The people who care are the ones whose paychecks will be affected. If you want to get a message inside the Golden Fortress, you need to hit the people who will immediately be affected financially.
Ken:Can you let your ticket guy know, that if the Mariners go through with any resolutions or referendums to try to stop the new Sodo Arena, after 16 years, I’ll be giving up my season ticket package next year.I find it hypocritical for a franchise that solely exists thanks to a stadium paid for by $350MM in taxpayer dollars, would do anything to prevent a privately financed arena from bringing more sports to our marketplace. Plus, let us not forget that the Sonics were here before the Mariners, and I don’t remember them trying to block a baseball team from coming to town.Not only will I pull out of my tickets, I will encourage everyone I know to pour their money into franchises that are friendlier to the Seattle community.Thanks.Andy
20 years from now, anyone who is a Mariners fan will remember how they watched Felix Hernandez dispatch the final 3 Tampa Bay Rays to pitch the 1st perfect game in team history. This video from the Jackson General, the Mariners AA team, is tough to beat.
Later tonight or tomorrow, I’ll get around to editing some of the notes I wrote from the game. Here are some pics in the meantime. Very surreal.
I couldn’t resist. I needed to check out the Town Hall meeting to discuss the SODO Arena Proposal. I had no idea what to expect.
The Town Hall was hosted by King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson, and Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien. I don’t have any previous knowledge of these two gentlemen, so I was able to enter this with an open mind.
In a word, the event was fascinating. I now understand why so many dumb decisions get made in City Council. You see, there are a lot of very old, very opinionated, very uninformed people who attend these meetings as a hobby. They have the ear of the Councilmembers. They ask questions that are irrelevant, obtuse, confusing and just plain non-sensical. But they show up, and their voice gets heard over silent oppositon and common sense.
However, this Town Hall was filled with 150-200 Pro-Arena supporters (to go along with maybe 50-75 against). And thanks to Sports Radio KJR, 710Sports.com, and SportsPressNW.com informing their listeners and readers with intelligent facts and data over the last few months, the Pro-Arena members of the crowd came across way more informed, way more intelligent and way more reasonable than those against it. In some circumstances you expected the Anti-Arena person with the microphone to follow up with, “And how do we know they REALLY landed on the moon? Were you there to see it?”
That being said, it’s clear that while the arguments against the proposal aren’t 100% sound, they are loud enough to potentially kill the deal. And with the Seattle Mariners, Seattle Times, and Port of Seattle working as hard as they can to stop it, you can’t just assume the deal will get passed because it makes sense. There are clearly a lot of politics in the way. If you care at all, I urge you to attend the important meeting on July 19.
But I’m not an opinion writer and I’m not an expert on this subject. so I tried as best I could to transcribe the 26 questions that the crowd was able to ask Councilmembers Ferguson and O’Brien. And I will say I was quite impressed with the two of them. I thought they were reasonable, well informed and bright.
I captured the main points and tried to stay unbiased in my transcription. I couldn’t keep track of which questions Ferguson was answering and which ones O’Brien was handling, so their replies are just mashed together. Here are all the questions and answers they went thru in about 70 minutes, in order:
1. What is wrong with the Key Arena? Why would we build a new arena in an industrial area?
The Key Arena doesn’t work for NBA basketball. It also doesn’t work for concerts. The proposal is to build a new arena in the stadium district. We do have to look at what effect that will have on our industrial area.
2. So is this deal for a stadium in SoDo or nothing?
For this proposal, yes. Chris Hansen has made it clear he’s not interested in building anywhere else.
3. Have the football and baseball stadiums worked out?
Yes (applause). However, we will have to ask, “Does the stadium reach a tipping point?”
4. Is 18,000 people at night a real traffic issue?
We’re analyzing. Independent reviews are being done to make decision based on data.
5. I’m not a sports fan, but why can’t you use the same footprint of the KeyArena? We could bore straight down and dig out the ground and go as deep as you wanted to. (Crowd: murmurs and disbelief)
People at city have looked at this. Not viable according to experts. I’m not an expert so I will have to rely on what the experts say.
6. Initiative I-91 passed to make sure we have no new taxes on sports arenas. Also, how will you backfill the lack of events at Key Arena if a new arena is built?
The City operates Key Arena at break even. We already wonder how long we will be able to continue to do so without giant improvements. We don’t have a plan to support those kind of improvements. This arena plan is also to support Key Arena. If Seattle is awarded an NBA team, it would need to play for 3 years in an improved Key Arena while new arena is being built. Mr. Hansen has committed to making improvements to Key Arena in this case, and those improvements would remain after the team moved to the new arena.
7. How can you submit to this kind of blackmail from a private property owner when the Port of Seattle is so important to us? (Crowd venomously boos this older woman.)
I hear your point on port. This is not blackmail, its a choice. Reasonable minds can disagree. The Port’s point is important. Reviews will be done, traffic and economic impacts. This isn’t an either/ or situation. We are hoping to get data to figure out how to make it additive.
8. I am a Building trades member. I’ve heard that port will stay quiet if they get their overpass built. It’s them doing the blackmailing. (applause)
We are all working on the (Lander St.) overpass issue. It would cost $200m to build. Mr. Hansen understandably doesn’t want to pay for it. If the Lander St overpass is most important issue, we will look at it. Impact of construction jobs can’t be understated.
9. Can you walk us thru the legal process of the MOU because it suddenly appeared without the knowledge of the public.
2 execs worked with Mr. Hansen and the Council was aware of what was going on. This wasn’t a backroom deal. The Mayor and the County Exec have the authority to work on this without a committee. That’s why we elect Execs.
10. A) Can we stop talking about Key Arena? (applause). B) As someone who lost a job, I understand why the port complained. But traffic studies show there’s no traffic after 4pm. Why isn’t the port on board with this?
There can be collaboration. Disagreements now can be healthy and there may be chance to make changes. Collaboration is taking place.
11. Has anyone seen any data from anywhere that backs up the Port’s claim that jobs would be lost?
(Raucous applause from crowd) No answer. (Note: Every time this question was asked, the Councilmembers tippy-toed around the obvious answer they didn’t want to say out loud. That answer is – No, there is no data. The Port is currently scrambling to pull together a report. According to a source I trust, the port is not exactly nimble, so getting a study together at this kind of pace is causing them all kinds of hassle.)
12. In economic terms the Key Arena is sunk cost. Key arena can make $1, new arena can make $2 . Key arena is an asset now. That property can be made into anything now. But this issue should go away. (No question asked)
13. The Martin report says east side of port will be rendered useless. (No question asked)
14. How will you protect jobs of current Key Arena employees?
We have to look at how the deal will be set up. We will look into ways that this is not something that would hurt Key Arena employees. It makes sense to give Key Arena employees first shot at jobs at new arena.
15. A Sports palace should fund itself. When the UW wanted us to build them a Sports Palace we voted it down and they got it built with tax dollars anyway. (Note: That statement was incorrect. The UW raised the money themselves.) We shouldn’t raise taxes to build a new sports palace. When the Panama Canal is expanded, 1/2 the Port’s traffic will disappear.
There should be no absolutes on these issues. This isn’t a tax it’s a bonding issue. (Note: No one seemed to understand the Panama Canal reference.)
16. Where does the NHL fit in? What are the safeguards if we don’t get an NHL team?
It’s not accurate to say that the arena deal needs the NHL. Mr. Hansen is focused on NBA. Potential comes down road for NHL. Likely that in the 3 years of arena being built they would pursue a NHL team.
17. Please raise hands because our elderly friends are raising theirs better than us….. It seems clear that the port is blackmailing us. They say the arena will cost 100,000 jobs. Where are they getting these facts?
We shouldn’t speak negatively about port, by insinuating they are blackmailing anyone. The decision should be grounded in real data. We’re asking for this analysis and won’t consider a deal without seeing this data.
18. Note: Jason Rubenstein then brought the house down with a fantastic monologue filled with facts, figures and emotion that came so fast an furious I couldn’t keep up. Well done, Jason. Well done indeed.
19. I’m hoping the council will consider what jobs will look like in the future arena. I don’t want to lose my family wage job in Key Arena.
The MOU states that jobs in new arena will be family wage jobs. No one is looking to outsource low wage contractors to replace current Key Arena employees.
20. The seawall repair will go to vote in November. The Kingdome was a perfectly good building (Crowd laughs in hysterics). If the seawall needs to go to a public vote, why can the council make the decision on the arena? After all, a seawall is a necessity, and a stadium is not. (Note: this man was 85 years old, so I don’t want to bash him too hard on the Kingdome comment.)
The Council can issue bonds, which are funds we need to pay back in some way. There’s no revenue model to pay back seawall bonds, so we have to raise taxes to pay it back. Thus, it has to go to vote. Arena bonds are not reliant on taxes. Now, we do need to make sure we have the security to cover the bonds, but we don’t need tax dollars to pay them back.
21. Is the city evaluating the revenue the right way? The I-91 issue.
Onsite revenues and land value issues are hard to forecast. (I’ll admit I got a little confused at the response.)
22. Port of Seattle is responsible for 194k jobs. They are the widening Panama Canal. I’m concerned about traffic.
(Note: Both the Councilmembers were perplexed by the non-question / unclear point the person was trying to make here, so they ignored it and moved on. It appears people against the arena are really concerned about this Panama Canal issue.)
23. The Stadium district is in the most transit rich area in the Pacific NW, and the perfect place to move people in and out of a stadium WITHOUT THEIR CARS. What’s the hangup here? (applause)
Relatively few people take mass transit to sporting events. While there is good transit, there will be 6000 cars going to games. We need to examine the issue carefully.
24. The NBA didn’t treat us well. How much money does the NBA have and why can’t they put the money up for a new arena?
If you are asking why the NBA won’t build an arena for us, well, that issue really isn’t on the table. I opposed the last arena deal because all residents of King County would be paying taxes. This deal is different. We have plenty of private-public projects. I don’t take absolutes. I don’t believe there can’t be public involvement in an arena. There is a significant investment from private citizens in this deal. I am sympathetic to public investment, but there is city by city competition across the country and public investment in stadiums is part of that. There are things to work on.
25. I live in West Seattle. There is so much construction these days. I can’t get home when I want to. Is a stadium the only thing that can go into the stadium district? Why can’t the stadium go in the Rainier Valley?
This deal is for an arena in the stadium district. That’s the only place being considered in this proposal.
26. Why is deal different for one team (NBA only) than two teams (NBA and NHL)?
The ownership group is shooting for 2 teams. If they only get one team, then the city and council are only willing to put $125MM in bonds up, not $200MM. We’re hoping to get a win-win here.
Was anyone else there to check it out? Would love to get your slant.
I’m doing the unthinkable.
I’m watching Game 2 of the NBA Finals. It’s the 1st basketball game I’ve watched since the Sonics were taken.
Now, I don’t forgive the NBA for what they did. I still have no respect for anyone in the Thunder ownership group. But something happened today while I watched thousands of people tweet from the #SonicsRally. I remembered why I was Sonics fan.
You see, my friends liked the Sonics. Some of my friends LOVED the Sonics. Supporting the Sonics was just one more thing that brought us all together. Some of my friends were able to go down to the rally today. They were excited about it and sent me photos. It reminded me of how we used to go to games together. I remembered the good times we had.
So I’m now on the couch, and am actively rooting against one of the teams playing in the game. And I am amusing myself by thinking about things that could happen if Seattle gets the Sacramento Kings:
So I’ve decided to bury the hatchet with the NBA. It’s a business, and smart business people do what’s best from a financial perspective. On one side they had a market frothing at the mouth begging to work with them, and on the other side they had a city government too inept to work with them at all. It was an easy decision, completely motivated by the “Just say no to progress” attitude of some of our local politicians. The NBA had a pretty easy “Business Decision” to make. Sure, as fans we were crushed emotionally, but the NBA isn’t here for us emotionally. It is here to make money off of our emotion.
And so with 7.1 seconds left, my emotion is that I hope LeBron James hits this free-throw and ices the game. OKC came back from 15 pts down and with 15 seconds left it looked like they would make an amazing comeback. And then suddenly it shifted. And 18,000 OKC fans are going to feel the emotion of a bone crushing loss.
And I smile.
So I may change these in the coming week, but here are my early thoughts and predictions for Euro 2012, based on no actual knowledge of international soccer, but completely relying on what I believe about FIFA and global politics.
Group A: Poland, Greece, Russia, Czech Republic
FIFA has shown in the past that they’ll do whatever they can do put a home side in the semi-finals of the World Cup (See South Korea v Italy 2002). But that was FIFA’s way to open up the Asian market. Poland’s not Asia, and FIFA already got what they needed from them. Meanwhile, Greece has done enough to annoy everyone in Europe that no one needs to put a fix in – the European refs will take care of it on their own. Russia actually HAS money, and has shown they like to pour it into European teams and drive up the prices of the EPL stars. Russia wins the group, Czech Republic slips in because someone messed up and put them in Group A by accident.
Group B: Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Portugal
The Dutch never lose in the first 3 games. I don’t know why, but they don’t. Denmark could play spoiler in most groups, but the Dutch don’t lose, and Germany doesn’t choke. If the Danes surprise anyone, they surprise Portugal and this becomes an anti-climatic group in which Germany and the Netherlands half-heartedly care who finish 1st / 2nd, until Germany realizes that winning the group sets up a sweet run to the final and turns it on in the last 10 minutes. If the Danes go down to Portugal, then Ronaldo has to lead his squad over Germany to advance in what becomes one of the best 3 games of the preliminary round. I’m trying to remember a game when Ronaldo has done that before. Germany wins, Netherlands second.
Group C: Spain, Italy, Ireland, Croatia
Poor Ireland. They get screwed out of World Cup 2010, and now see Spain in the First round of Euro. It’s obvious some drunk Irish guy did something to some FIFA muckety-muck and they are doomed forever. Ireland goes 0-3. Spain is undoubtedly the best team in the world, so as such, they’ll do something dumb, like lose to Croatia. The Italians always seem to have some crazy choke game. Plus, it’s coming out that the entire Serie A is basically fixed by the refs. The only organization stronger (and more corrupt) than the Italian Mafia is FIFA. FIFA flexes its muscles and suddenly Croatia finishes second, or even wins the group while Spain settles in the other slot.
Group D: France, England, Ukraine, Sweden
France was an embarrassment in World Cup 2010. Simply a farce. They will think that FIFA will let them waltz in to Euro with an attitude of, “Quoi? 2010? Ah, we will fuhget abooot that. Zat was sooooo long ago. We are all friends now. Viva La France!” They will be wrong. The worst call of the tournament will go against France. It will be such a bad call, we will begin referring to such calls officially as, “Getting Henry-ed.” That leaves England as the traditional powerhouse. And when I say powerhouse, I mean, “powerhouse in the minds of their fans.” They will stutter and stumble and make it to the next round, because that is what they always do. So the last spot comes down to Sweden vs the Ukraine. Winner take all. I can’t remember if Russia still hates the Ukraine. I think they do, which is a knock against them. Meanwhile, Sweden isn’t part if the Euro, and will be the only country in Europe with any money in the next decade. FIFA likes money. Sweden wins.
(A1) Russia vs (B2) Netherlands: Logic dictates Netherlands win this game. But the good mafia money says Russia. Bayern Munich inexplicably lost to Russian owned Chelsea in the Champions League Final. Que the encore. Russia wins.
(A2) Czech Republic vs (B1) Germany: Czech Republic is not advancing past this round. Germany gets another easy win.
(C1) Spain vs (D2) Sweden: Spain brings it’s junior team, and their ball boy gets to play in the 85th minute. Spain advances.
(C2) Croatia vs (D1) England: All logic says this is England’s game to lose. Which they do, because they are England. Somehow John Terry is involved. After the game, Rooney gets asked about Terry and replies, “Seriously, the guy is the biggest wanker I’ve ever met.”
Spain vs Russia: You will know how badly FIFA is corrupt by who refs this game. If you have a game where Russian players are allowed to beat the hell out of the softer Spaniards, then Spain curls up into a ball and Russia guts out a 1-0 win. If it’s a fairly officiated game, Spain waltzes.
Germany vs Croatia: Croatia has no business making it this far. Clock strikes midnight.
So if all lines up, we have Germany vs Spain. Can Spain repeat their World Cup run?
Soccer wise: Spain should win. Fan wise: Spain should win. Politically: Europe needs Germany. It’s a close call. In an upset, Germany avenges their club Champions League loss, and wins their first major cup in 16 years.
And that is probably the worst set of EURO 2012 predictions you will ever see.
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