The Seattle P-I reports today that the Sonics are flirting with moving to Bellevue or Renton, to which I say (yawn…) “Who cares?”
I guess their suburban flirtation is supposed to prick Seattlites civic pride, but as far as I’m concerned, if we big city folk can manage to keep the Sonics in the region without personally footing a $200 million tax bill, it makes me all the prouder. I mean, it’s not like they’re gonna change the team’s name to the Renton Supersonics, for chrisakes.
Lots of sports teams don’t actually play within the limits of the city whose name they bear. The Dallas Cowboys play in Arlington, the Detroit Pistons play in Auburn Hills… hell, both the New York Jets and Giants play in New Jersey.
So if it makes financial sense for Renton or Bellevue to build a new stadium, and it makes financial sense for the Sonics to move there, more power to them… especially if they can do it without screwing over local taxpayers.
Developer Kemper Freeman, the man behind Bellevue Square mall, has suggested that the $400 million necessary to build a Bellevue arena could be raised without asking for tax money.
Really? I hadn’t realized stadium economics is that much different in Bellevue than it is in Seattle, but, well… a great civic leader like Kemper Freeman would never stretch the truth. It just makes me wonder why the Sonics insist that private financing is off the table for a Key Arena rebuild, but would consider a similar package in Bellevue?
But if it doesn’t make financial sense, then I sympathize with the local Renton or Bellevue taxpayers forced to foot the bill, though as a Seattle resident, that’s not really my problem.
Of course, it is possible — even likely — that neither Renton nor Bellevue will come through with a several hundred million dollar gift to the Sonics’ billionaire owners, forcing Starbucks chair Howard Schultz to either come back to Seattle with a reasonable proposal, or follow through on his threat to move the team out of the region entirely. And to show there’s no hard feelings if he chooses the latter, some local fans have organized a Sonics Farewell Party, Thursday May 11, noon, at City Hall.
As far as I’m concerned, out of state, out of mind.