Emails from Seattle
This week’s email bag comes courtesy of Seattle. The citizens of Washington state have plenty to say about uprooting the Sonics from their home of 41 years. Ted from Seattle wrote: “u know, u should really do some research. seattle spent more to refurbush key arena than your spending now on ford center, the problem here is the lease sux. but all ur dog and pony show did, was tell the ppl of washington to build a $500 million dollar arena. $500 million, r u serious? thats more than was spent of safeco and qwest field and safeco has a retractable roof! it was a complete sham from the beginning, key arena has abt the best sight lines in the country for basketball. all bennent had to do was change the lease to make money. to say he did everything in good faith is the biggest lie in the world, the guys a complete charlatan and a crook.”
I’ve generally found that people who write in abbreviation tend to think in abbreviation.
Watu writes, “As a transplanted Tulsan and lifetime OU football fan living in Seattle, I enjoyed your balanced article about the Sonics which was printed in the Seattle Times. Certainly you are correct that the message from David Stern to Seattle was ‘drop dead.’ The feeling is mutual. More to the point, Clay Bennett is now considered in the same class as Brian Bosworth and Penn Square Bank, other Okies who have left their marks on Seattle. Like Steve Largent, I identify myself around here as a Tulsan.”
Be careful. Didn’t you hear? OKC and Tulsa are marching arm in arm for the NBA brotherhood.
Another Seattle resident wrote, “While I know every article is limited in what it can cover, more space might have allowed you to mention of the following. 1) To characterize Key Arena as a 60′s bandbox is misleading. Key Arena was taken down to the foundation, enlarged and rebuilt eight years ago in a joint effort with the Sonics ownership. The 10-year lease was the quid pro quo. A new arena every eight years for a team with a declining record? That’s pushing it. 2) Seattle has always agreed to negotiate a remodel of Key Arena for new owners, but Bennett and Stern virtually spat on the site. The Steve Balmer group offered to buy the Sonics and keep it in a remodeled Key Arena which is smack in the center of the city and its world fair grounds. 3) Keep in mind the effort needed to get the Seahawks’ stadium approved was far, far greater than anything Bennett has put into the Sonics. Paul Allen is a revered fixture of this community, and his proposal was turned down twice byKing County voters. Allen had to pay for an 11th-hour, statewide referendum to obtain funding. The Mariners stadium was built on a wave of enthusiasm that followed the best season the team had ever had. That Bennett expected to sail in from OKC, buy a team with a deteriorating record and quickly get funding for a new project of his choosing in a neighboring city while refusing to discuss alternatives in Seattle was either incredibly naïve or designed to fail from the beginning.”
First, it was 13 years ago, not eight, on KeyArena. And everyone keeps acting like Bennett should be committed to Seattle for longer than a year. He gave Seattle a year. He told them he was giving them a year. What we have here is a failure to communicate, and the failure is on the Seattle end.
David wrote, “I am a Seattle resident and lifelong Sonics fan. Congratulations – your boy Clay lied & cheated his way into stealing you a team. I really hope you feel good about that. If you can’t admit that, you are denying reality. The Sonics players see what a dirtbag he is, and no way does Durant re-sign. I think it’s despicable how Oklahoma “sports fans” can cheer on the theft of our team. I would never embrace such sleazy tactics. The fight is not over yet. Fans and sportswriters across the nation all agree this is disgusting. You & your state should be ashamed of yourselves; you have disgraced the game of basketball. To hell with the NBA.”
Interesting. To hell with the NBA is what Seattle leaders have been saying for several years.
Jeff wrote, “I quit watching the NBA when Stern ruined the league years ago. He continues to show his arrogance and disrespect, to spit in the face of the loyal fans of a storied franchise as Seattle takes the cake. Bennett lied to Stern, looked Seattle right in the eye and lied to them and Schultz. Once a liar always a liar. To respect that character says a lot. Seattle will watch from afar while Bennett keeps reaching into your pockets for every dime to help pay for all his losses in the next two years until Oklahomans can’t afford to go to games anymore, and then they’ll just move to another town. Enjoy your heroes!”
We certainly plan to enjoy the NBA, thank you very much.
Todd writes, “The NBA is now dismissing the Key Arena as a facility that is no longer NBA acceptable. I have been to many NBA facilities and can tell you the Key Arena is a good venue. The problem is the NBA model is broken and with the salaries the players get, it will implode. It is interesting that the two owners in the NBA to turn down the move are owners that have more money than other owners and are not greedy over the money that will be made by the relocation. Paul Allen has had his hard times in Portland and in fact one of his companies went bankrupt. Mark Cuban also recognizes the model as broken.”
You’re right. The NBA’s model is broken. But can we please stop with all this talk about what a wonderful venue KeyArena is. No one ever said the seats or the sight lines weren’t good. They said it was too small and underfunded and requires a horrific lease.
Mike writes, “I’m amused at people’s reactions (writers, broadcasters, politicians and ownership types) from both Seattle and OKC. Few people can see the big picture and nearly everyone’s position is about perspective from their own narrow position in their town. Take anyone from either city and switch them to the other, and their opinion will be reversed. This is a story of timing, and Bennett has it on his side. Seattle cares about the Sonics more than Oklahomans think, it just isn’t as big a priority because of other issues we have. As a city that’s much larger than OKC, it comes with the territory that there are additional big issues that must be dealt with first. Example? How about Boeing losing a military contract to a company overseas that might affect 35,000 jobs here. We could have done a better job trying to keep this relocation vote from happening, I can’t deny it. But Bennett could have done a better job making it work in this city. One year and one proposal doesn’t cut it. We’ve all been lied to here, whether it’s Stern, Bennett, our local politicians, etc. If any of them deny it, they’re just lying again. Oklahoma City’s giddiness will turn into periods of disappointment down the road when the team has been in town awhile and players begin getting DUI’s, stiffing fans, ticket prices are raised, the team has several losing seasons and the owner puts out some new demand on the city to help him make more money. That’s not sour grapes from me, that’s the reality of pro sports. It’s a dirty business. Just wait until a bunch of moms from a school put in months organizing a fundraiser for their kids’ school, line up a player to appear and the guy no-shows. We’ve experienced all that here for years, while at the same time enjoying numerous thrilling seasons. Seattle has supported the Sonics very well over 41 years, and to look at the last few as reason to leave town is a shame. If people in OKC don’t believe pro sports is a dirty business, then they clearly don’t see what’s happening here in Seattle and have a lot to learn after the Sonics move there.”
Well, I won’t deny that bad apples are all over pro sports, but the Hornets certainly were solid citizens in their two years here. I’d say pro sports is big business more than dirty business.
Bob writes, “Not everyone in Seattle is pining for the Sonics. I’m a sports nut. Love all sports. Lived in Seattle since 1999 and been to more than a hundred Mariner games, a hundred college basketball games, college football games, even pricey Seahawk games. I’ll even go watch high school basketball. I’ve been to one Sonic game and only because I got the tickets for free. My son and I left early because he thought it was boring. This was with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. The NBA is a bad product. Not sure what they’re playing but it isn’t basketball and when they do play it’s only with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Bennett wants Seattle to spend $500 million for that? Forget it. Back the truck up and take the Sonics to OKC. You’ll be in bed with Stern – the man doesn’t have a Napoleon complex, he’s Napoleon with a complex. (Any other reason why he would alienate an entire city with his rhetoric simply because they don’t bow to his wishes?). Good luck and enjoy. The first five years will be a love affair, then it will fizzle as the owners decide the millions you spent on the stadium aren’t enough and want more, and the product continues to deteriorate and the fans realize they have nothing in common with the players and the tickets are outrageously expensive, as is the parking and the food inside the arena in order to pay the outrageous salaries. Then Durant becomes a free agent and signs a maximum deal to play someplace else.”
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