For all Sonics and Storm fans this comes as no big surprise and a big shock all at the same time. Schultz has been complaining for the last two years about Key Arena and all of the money that he has lost and has been frustrated by the lack of interest that the city, the state and all of it’s residents have expressed about publicly subsidizing yet another sports stadium in Seattle. It isn’t a surprise to see Schultz sell out.
But I don’t think anybody could have anticipated that he would sell to a group who, despite everything that they say about wanting to stay in Seattle, are so obviously focused on bringing a team to Oklahoma City permanently. The New Orleans Hornets are scheduled to play once again in OKC for the 2006-2007 season and George Shinn wants to relocate them there for good. But you have to think that the purchase of the Sonics by a major player in bringing the Hornets to town in the first place, is an indication that the Hornets will be staying in New Orleans and the Sonics will be taking over in 2007.
It’s a disgusting move by a man, Howard Schultz, who claims to be a community leader and owes so much of his success and the success of his other company, Starbucks, to Seattle and the State of Washington. It is a sale obviously aimed to put pressure on the city to build a new arena, or else. In today’s press conference, Shultz said that the OKC group “has a better chance to succeed in negotiations with local government” failing to add what he really wanted to say: “because if they don’t, it will be the city’s fault that the Sonics are gone for good.”
I’m rooting for the city and state not to cave. As much as I love the Sonics, hell I worked part-time for the Sonics and Storm for two and a half years, I don’t ever support public funding for stadiums, anywhere. At least not a majority of funding unless the facility will be open to the public most of the time. And I don’t mean open to the public to buy expensive basketball or concert tickets, I mean open to everybody to use equally, like a community center. I didn’t think that Safeco Field should have been funded and I still think Qwest Field is a joke.
Seattle has so many other pressing capital fund projects that need funding. The city needs a new viaduct before it collapses, a new 520 bridge before it sinks and, for god sakes, to finish an actual rapid transit system. I know that it isn’t necessarily the same money that would fund these projects but it doesn’t matter, you can’t be whining about no funding for some projects and then brag about your brand new, publicly financed basketball arena. Nobody will buy it. Key Arena is not a threat to life and limb, it does not need to be replaced. The viaduct and the 520 are. Fix them now, screw the arena.
If the OKC group really wants to stay in Seattle like they say, they will see what an advantage it is for them to put forward the majority of the funding for a new arena and run it themselves keeping all of the profits. But you know as well as I do that isn’t going to happen when their hometown is ready and willing to have it’s own team permanently.
Howard Schultz should have been able to see that advantage too, but when public funding is possible, nobody is willing to put up their own money. He has forced the city and state into an impossible position, either they buckle and give up more than ever or they lose the team. Damn you Howard Schultz, I hope whenever you show your face in public someone lights into you for this. I know that if I ever see you at Salumi, you will get an ear full. Unfortunately, I live in California, so I won’t get the opportunity any time soon.
As far as the logo goes, this is a logo blog after all, I have always thought it was garbage. I am happy they ditched the red and went back to the original colors, but this logo is so lackluster it’s unacceptable. They had an opportunity to go back to the great skyline in a basketball logo and didn’t and I never forgave them for that. And they have never been the Sonics to me, they never should have dropped the Super from their name. The Sonics can move anywhere they want if you ask me, but the Supersonics will live on no matter what happens.