I will admit that, in general, I’m not a huge basketball fan. I know how to play, I know the rules, and I do sometimes enjoy watching it from time to time, but I couldn’t tell you the last time I’ve been to a game and I’ve never been to an NBA game1.
Would I like to have another NBA team in Seattle? Sure…it could be fun; but I don’t need them.
Do I want to provide them a financial incentive to come here, such as building them a new stadium with taxpayer dollars? Absolutely not.
The NBA may be “non-profit”, but the Sacramento Kings Limited Partnership2 — the basketball team — is most definitely for-profit.
This has been one of the biggest the issue I have with professional sports: NBA, MLB, NFL, etc: why should we, as tax payers, pay for a fully furnished building for a for-profit company?
In my opinion, we should not.
Daniels Real Estate of Seattle and equity partner Stockbridge Capital Partners are building a $400 million, 660-foot skyscraper in downtown Seattle: The Fifth and Columbia Tower. They didn’t need to secure financing or public support — they raised the money themselves.
And that should be the lesson from all of this for basketball in Seattle: If the market is truly profitable, then a company should be able to secure funding privately.
That’s what Chris Hansen, et al, have done. It’s not a perfectly privately financed deal, still financed by the public in part, yet significantly better than previous arrangements sports teams have been making with cities in the recent past.
And this same reason, using private funds to build a new stadium, also appears to be why the NBA Relocation Committee voted unanimously to veto moving the Kings to Seattle:
You see, in addition to offering $365 million for the team [which is $35 million more than the next highest bidder], the Seattle bidders were offering to build a brand new arena for the Kings. By contrast, the Sacramento bidders managed to persuade the city of Sacramento to build a brand new arena for the Kings. The Seattle bid, in other words, would have set a good precedent for the future of American public policy. And the owners didn’t want that. The owners want to be able to make this move over and over again. “Give us a new publicly financed stadium or we’ll move to Seattle” is a threat that works as well in Portland or Milwaukee or Minneapolis or Salt Lake City or Memphis or New Orleans or Phoenix as it does in Sacramento. And the major American sports leagues are organized as a cartel for a reason. An individual owner just wants to sell to the highest bidder. But the league approval process means the owners as a whole can think of the interests of the overall cartel, and those interests very much include a strong interest in maintaining the ability to get cities to pony up subsidies.
At the end of the day, the NBA will do what it pleases; and that’s how things sometimes go when people have free choice. Like I said, it could be fun; but I don’t need an NBA team in Seattle.
But if we capitulate to the NBA on who pays for the arena, that makes us only one thing: suckers.
Title shamelessly ripped from: One Foot Tsunami.