Sunday, July 12, 2009

Steve Balmer, tell how supporting a Portland Trailblazer "home game" helps Seattle Center's KeyArena become home again to a Sonics team

At first blush I hated the idea of supporting the Portland TrIlblazers in any way (still do), and hated the idea of supporting the political entities that emptied the building of an NBA franchise (still do).

I still have a problem with Seattle Center's KeyArena not having an anchor tenant that regularly draws people to the city and fills the building all the way up into upper bowl with patrons that can afford an NBA season ticket, and suites.

I do not see how one preseason game with two out-of-town teams helps the Seattle Center's KeyArena get authrization from the state to tax sports fans parking/eating/drinking to fund a remodel the facility so it can compete with Safeco Field and Quest Field for high end patronage.
A remodel is the ONLY thing that would elevate KeyArena in the eyes of suite buyers, and the NBA entertainment seller.
And the city's facility plays second fiddle to the county facilities until things change.

In 2000 KeyArena began to lose suite owners to the new local facilities. The city and the Sonics did not anticipate such a thing happening way back in 1994 when working out the funding plan for KeyArena. In fact, in 1994 is was quite possible the the Seattle Mariners might leave their King Dome home to Tampa Bay.

The Mariners stayed, Seahawks stayed, both got new buildings with restuarants, bars, suites and club suites, everyday like a trip the county fair. So, the big money left KeyArena, and no matter how many "Joe fans" filled KeyArena stands the facility would not (will not) compete in Seattle.
Still, "Joe fan" kept coming after 2000 and it did not matter. They could fill almost every seat on every night and the Sonics were not going to turn an operating profit, and the city would lose money since much of their revenue was to come from suites.
The Mariners MLB and Seahawks NFL business models were not supported by the King Dome, and they were heading out of town for the same reasons as the Sonics.
The worst season the Sonics ever had, the last, the dead duck year, they still sold 13,000 ticket per game, and they lost more money.

No matter how many fans filled that hole, the hole could not be made whole, not the city, not the team owner. The fans did their part and it did not matter to the city, the team, or the NBA.

For some strange reason Seattle Times Sports Columnist Steve Kelley did not think fans would boycott the October 14th, meaningless, preseason game between the Portland Trailblazers (NBA media market "home" team for Seattle) and the Phoenix Suns.
And I had never thought of calling a Portland anything a "home" team, even for a meaningless NBA preseason game.
In fact, some people might be borderline offended by the very idea. I call them "Sonics" fans.
Poor tone-deaf Steve Kelley, he could hear the single note song of millionaire players asking why, and failed to remember the chorus of the 3,000 fans at the rally on the federal courthouse steps just more than a year ago.
Will local businesses rent suites? See Steve, that is what has been missing for nearly a decade.
It aint me, Steve, you can not hang the leaving or returning of the NBA to KeyArena on the fans showing up, or not.

And the the city, seeing this trainwreck coming since the groundbreak of Safeco and Qwest Fields got nothing done in making its building competitive with the real competition, not Oklahoma City, but King County.

To be sure, KeyArena manager Edie Burke does not have a clue why Joe Fan left KeyArena, or is just putting on a happy face for the press, either way the publc is not well served, and neither is Seattle Center and the surrounding businesses that made business investments based on a 15 year lease and 41 nights of Joe Fan.
The city council got nothing done for the long-term viability of KeyArena and the Seattle Center. The Seattle Center master plan was released last year with a half of a billion dollar price tag, price not including doing anything with KeyArena. Jan Drago has been on the council the entire time, maybe she could have done something, like lead.
Maybe the mayor could have been less of an asshole to everybody.
Maybe, maybe,maybe neither will lead the city in making the Seattle Center master plan and KeyArena remodel happen.
To be sure, not maybe the fans. They, we, were there no matter how poorly the Sonics owners and city officials responsible for all the other stuff involving KeyArena.
Hosting the Portland Trailblazers now is a risk, and if it does not go well then that is on the city and NBA. For it to go well could only be measured by what counts for the city and NBA, suite sales for the event, because the fans showing up did not keep the old team here and will not bring one back.

The only way KeyArena lands an anchor tenant that fills the upper bowl, and suites, is by remodeling the facility to compete with Safeco and Quest Fields.

So, the only way I could see supporting an NBA event at KeyArena is if Steve Ballmer told me why anybody should support the Portland Trailblazer NBA preseason game.

Steve Ballmer would have come on over to my blog and tell me why it is a good idea for me to support this game, and how it would help the effort to remodel the facility. He is the guy picked by the NBA to be the next Seattle Sonics owner.

Ya know, I have been writing about this thing for a while, and I have gotten and answered some strange emails from a variety of folks. Why not Steve Ballmer?
Mr. Ballmer, my consumable email address is next to my Facebook picture on this page, send me an email and tell me how it is (or become my Facebook Friend and write it on my Facebook wall, not holding my breath). I'll keep your email address supersecret.

I do not owe anybody any favors, and I have zero monitary interest in this (other than as a citizen). I think I have made the effort, I think a direct answer from the next NBA owner is not too much to ask for.