Wednesday, May 30, 2012

If You Build It, Drivers Will Manage

Kevin Durant was never going to spend much time in a
Sonics jersey, but hopefully his rookie year will
not be the last time pro basketball appears in Jet City
Turning to local Seattle news for a bit, I agree with basically everything Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat says about the potential new basketball arena. I'm a longtime skeptic of publicly-funded stadia, and Seattle was right to let the Sonics/Thunder walk rather than force taxpayers to foot the full price of a new home for the basketball team. What's more, the NBA is the worst of the four major sports leagues when it comes to contributing private money towards stadium construction costs. The MLB, NFL, and NHL have all realized that municipalities just aren't going to pony up a half-billion dollars for a new stadium anymore.

But now that hedge fund gazillionaire Chris Hansen is willing to foot 60-75% of the construction costs privately and cover the balance with revenues generated from the arena itself (naming rights, taxes on ticket sales & parking, etc.) in order to attract a new team, Seattle would really be foolish to turn him down.. There are a number of moribund NBA franchises--Memphis, Charlotte, New Orleans--that might be willing to move to a larger more prosperous media market. Let the man build his stadium and figure out how to mitigate the traffic impact and whatever other concerns local business owners might have later.
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