Stern on Sonics Situation
Here is a transcript of NBA Commissioner David Stern’s response to questions about the Sonics’ arena situation in Seattle, heard Thursday afternoon by reporters on a national conference call. You can also listen to this audio as well as Stern’s thoughts on the Hornets’ return to New Orleans here.
“I think every situation is individualized to the fact. From a league perspective, I think it’s fair to say that there was a very sort of proactive anti-Seattle Sonic movement, which its two featured premises were, one, legislation by the city council which was openly voted upon and passed overwhelmingly by the people of Seattle saying that any advance in funds with respect to projects had to bear the same rate of return as a treasury bond, which would make that kind of unique in the annals of American Arena building.
“The second point, and I was out there and I did testify and I did meet with the state legislators, the second point was, as I understand it, was a request for there to be an extension of the tax, which currently is used to fund the baseball and football stadiums. The speaker out there said that it would get out of the committee over his strenuous objections, shall we say. So there was no heart whatsoever for assisting the Sonics team.
Into that, and I’ve been out there twice on the subject, there didn’t even seem to be a critical path to be followed. We were in consultation with the team that hired a whole new set of lobbyists and PR consultants and arena consultants that did everything right. We’d love to have found the path that would see them staying. But right now, it just seems that either they’ll be there for the duration of their lease or they won’t depending on the outcome of these litigations or some divine inspiration that someone has with respect to a new arena and a suitable funding for it. And that’s just the way I think the owners look at it, and that’s the way I feel about it.
If there were a role for me, the answer is absolutely, yes. But as we watch for an opening for an intelligent path, in Sacramento the team is a fixture. Everyone has expressed that they want them to stay. The statements of support on an ongoing basis from the city and the governor have been very good. It’s a completely different situation. I just don’t want to offend people by parachuting in and saying ok this is the way it should be. I tried that and my track record is not very good in Seattle or in
Olympia, and I don’t know that I really add anything to the situation.”
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