Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published June 2, 2014 at 4:52 PM | Page modified June 2, 2014 at 6:02 PM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

Editorial: Seattle Sonics boom goes bust after L.A. Clippers’ sale bid

Los Angeles won Steve Ballmer’s heart and wallet with a team, venue and gigantic fan base and viewing audience. How did L.A. beat out Seattle?


Seattle Times Editorial

Reader Comments
Hide / Show comments
It is garbage like this, masquerading as journalism that leaves me unwilling to pay for a subscription to this low... MORE
It is this kind of biased editorial that prompted me to cancel my Seattle Times subscription after subscribing it for... MORE
In the realm of wishful thinking: 1. Let's move our newspaper to the morning and then screw up the P-I's circulation... MORE

advertising

BILLIONAIRE Steve Ballmer’s $2 billion bid to buy the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise is a another window on America’s 21st century Gilded Age.

The former Microsoft chief executive apparently has both the spare cash and the requisite grasp of reality to recognize that Seattle’s pursuit of a new sports arena and teams to fill it is, at best, improbable.

Two years ago, Sodo arena promoter Chris Hansen announced Ballmer would be part of the investment group that was looking to return an NBA team, and the beloved Sonics name, to a publicly subsidized venue. And maybe a hockey team. The volume of Balmer’s money now in play suggests there never was any need for the City of Seattle to take on $200 million in debt to consider building a stadium the partnership group could have built itself with cash on hand.

In the past 24 months, Hansen tried and failed to steal a team from Sacramento. His arena campaign was slowed, appropriately, by environmental reviews, and recognition of consequences for the Port of Seattle and nearby industrial employment.

Meanwhile, the Seattle City Council is still presumably in play for something approaching $200 million in bond funds to help Hansen cover arena costs. The number is written in pencil because it keeps changing.

Ah, the allure of municipal bonds. The implication is that it is magic money defrayed by other income. As if the bond capacity could not be used elsewhere, or the identified arena income might not cover the overhead.

So as the Seattle City Council deals with the reality of minimum-wage incomes, it is also poised to ask voters for extra support for parks, transit and pre-K education. This is a matter of focus, to actually pay for city services instead of for debt-service on millionaire or billionaire team owners’ arena dreams.

Yet, the city still has the capacity and urgency to help bankroll a professional sports venue that most people could not afford to attend?

Ballmer looked around and concluded the 18 million people in the Greater Los Angeles Area might be able to support the Clippers. Think of the broadcast rights alone.

The Seattle City Council has a lot on its plate, and it is not a gilded municipal platter.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

The Seattle Times photographs

Seattle space needle and mountains

Purchase The Seattle Times images


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►