Sometimes I want Life After Nirvana to be a Seattle culture blog. Oftentimes it is. We’ve talked film, and theater in addition to music. Those are all great, but right now I want to talk about sports. Seeing as I’m not getting paid for writing here thus don’t have to satisfy specific demands and content requirements, I’m going to talk sports.
The loss of the Sonics (1967-2008, may they rest in peace) left a gaping void in the Seattle community. If you are from the area, you know this. If you aren’t from the area but know sports, you can probably assume this. Yeah, the naysayers can say that sports affects a relative proportion of the city and a sports franchise is simply a group of men who does little more than play a game. What these people fail to recognize is the intrinsic value of community pride that a sports team offers. In particular, a basketball team unites people from all sectors of the city and its surrounding area. Civic pride is important, especially today in a society where suburban isolation is entirely possible and is a reality for some. A team brings people into the city; it encourages commerce which continually increases a city’s resources while simultaneously buoying local businesses. In a city like Seattle which has an incredibly affluent segment of residents living in suburban areas, there is an untapped potential for economic growth during the months of October through the spring which a basketball franchise could fill. As a Vancouver Canucks fan, I can tell you that when our family of three travels north to take in a game we contribute at least $1000 a trip towards the city of Vancouver on expenses that range from tickets and merchandise to food at local restaurants and money spent at hotels and other businesses. A single team brings massive amounts of capital into a city on a nightly basis. There are economic connotations that stretch nationwide and globally. It benefits us all for Seattle to be a big league city, increasing Seattle’s image as a world class entity. Having sports franchises in all leagues plays a major role in doing just that, increasing nationwide exposure and leading to among other things, a greater amount of tourism and trade. Name a top media market in the US that only has two franchises in the four major leagues. You can’t. New York and LA, as the two largest cities in the country, have 9 and 6 teams respectively in their surrounding areas (this is counting Anaheim and New Jersey teams as well). Chicago has 5 teams. Seattle, ranking 15th in US television markets, has two fewer Big 4 franchises than cities such as Kansas City (31) and St. Louis (21) and as many as cities such as Buffalo (51) and New Orleans (53). Seattle is more than a 50th rate city in this country. If I haven’t done enough to convince you that this city needs the Sonics, feel free to hit me up on facebook and we can discuss.
With all of this said, you might be wondering why I’m talking about the Sonics today. May 16, 2012 marks the closest the city of Seattle has come to being a big league city once again. An agreement with the city and a private contributor has been made official; an agreement that states that should the city be granted a franchise, an arena will be built. But wait…haven’t we known about this for a while now? Wasn’t there a press conference on this exact topic a month or two ago? That’s what I thought too. We have heard about Chris Hansen’s plans to build an arena and have heard that the city supports these plans. What we haven’t heard has been a word from the mouth of the potential pariah turned gift horse: NBA commissioner David Stern. I am left wondering – what gives? This is the same David Stern who admitted that he handled the Sonics situation poorly and has been on record stating that one of his initial priorities is to get Seattle a team back should the city have a place for them. Well, David, we have a place for them. It’s official, a city council vote pending. Our knight in shining armor has arrived in the form of Hansen, a wealthy investor who wants to build us our arena using as little public money as possible. Yet still no word from the offices of any NBA official. With Sacramento on the verge of losing their franchise, Seattle appears to be the logical spot for them to land yet their ownership has only discussed moving to Anaheim in order to become So Cal’s third professional basketball team. Again, no word from Stern. The decision is now firmly in his hands – if he aims to restore Seattle with the team and status that it deserves, he can make it so. I am left to wonder when this time will come and if Stern’s intentions are to rectify the largest mistake of his career. This means more than giving us sports fans something to watch for a few months every year. If I haven’t made this clear, the ramifications that this decision has on the city of Seattle are massive. Meanwhile, we as the Emerald City are left with collectively baited breaths, waiting on the word of a man who has proved that he is at his mildest excruciatingly naïve and at his worst a negligent and merciless liar. Stay tuned.