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  #1  
Old Posted Feb 24, 2012, 7:19 PM
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Arena or Amazon: Does Seattle know what's important?

Arena or Amazon: Does Seattle know what's important?


February 20, 2012

By Jordan Royer



Read More: http://crosscut.com/2012/02/20/real-...-s-important-/

Quote:
We witnessed two blockbuster deals for Seattle and the region last week. One, the proposal to build a multi-use sports and entertainment venue in the SoDo neighborhood, captured the imagination of sports fans everywhere. The other, the announcement of Amazon’s intent to purchase three blocks in the Denny Triangle from the Clise family received nominal coverage. By any economic measure, though, the Amazon deal is much bigger for Seattle, with no public funds expended. What does this say about us? And how does this reflect how we will negotiate with the NBA, the arena ownership group, and others in the coming weeks? Will we be optimistic while at the same time maintaining a healthy dose of skepticism? And will we separate the emotional from the economic?

- First, consider the Amazon deal to build 3 million square feet of office space, creating thousands of jobs, including the revenue that will create new shops and restaurants, and real estate excise taxes (REET) for the city. This is a huge long-term commitment that will continue to pay huge economic dividends far into the future. The thousands of high-paying jobs that will grow here because of this deal dwarf the economics of a new arena. As our vice president would say, “this is a big f#%&ing deal!” In most cities this would be the biggest deal in decades. There would be press conferences, celebrations, and photo ops — but not here. Not in Seattle. Here, we are under the trance of something that transcends economics. We see an opportunity to get back what was stolen from us: our beloved Sonics.

- We have been given an opportunity at redemption by a local guy from the neighborhood, Chris Hansen. Hansen graduated two years behind me at Roosevelt. I never knew him but am proud nonetheless that he is stepping forward with this plan. Hansen has made a proposal to the city to bring back the team that is both generous and audacious. The mayor and the county executive are completely right to work with him to find a way to make this happen. I don’t doubt Hansen's civic pride as the driving force for his proposal. Because, let’s be honest, the year-to-year economics of an NBA franchise don’t add up. The return on investment comes upon the selling of the team. Ask the former ownership group of the Sonics — the people who have their names on the symphony, opera, aquarium, and zoo.

- Since the team itself will only cost money, other avenues of profit must be opened. Will there be opportunities for investors to build hotels, condos, and restaurants? Is the new arena (likely a mall with a basketball court and hockey rink) a catalyst for more development and rising property values? Who knows? What kind of traffic mitigation is planned for the area to keep things moving while not threatening the port’s international competitiveness? How many new parking spaces will be needed? It’s doubtful that fans from Bellevue paying $100 for a ticket will be taking the bus in.

- And finally, why has Seattle Center always been rejected so out of hand? Aren’t we investing millions in traffic improvements there? Wouldn’t it be great for Lower Queen Anne businesses to be bustling again with Sonics fans? Three million square feet of office space being built by Amazon is within walking distance to the Seattle Center. The Gates Foundation is right there. We know that KeyArena is not big enough to house all the restaurants and shops that are part of the new NBA economic model. But there must be space to build what’s desired there.

.....


CenturyLink and Safeco Field could be joined by a sports arena.






The courtyard outside the Van Vorst Center on Terry Avenue N. offers seating for Amazon employees and the public.

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  #2  
Old Posted Feb 24, 2012, 7:46 PM
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The Seattle demographic looks a bit thin for an NBA team. Three-fourths of the teams are already losing money or break-even (which means losing if accounted for properly) and this looks like another case of a team that will start asking for money or threatening to leave in about 2 years. See, also, Sacramento, Memphis, New Orleans, etc.

Amazon, of course, looks like a winner.
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  #3  
Old Posted Feb 24, 2012, 8:20 PM
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A metro of 4,200,000 looks thin? I'm forgetting, but aren't we by far the largest city without NBA?
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  #4  
Old Posted Feb 24, 2012, 8:56 PM
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How many new parking spaces will be needed? It’s doubtful that fans from Bellevue paying $100 for a ticket will be taking the bus in.
Why not? The Toronto Maple Leafs have the most expensive tickets in the NHL, nearly twice what New York Rangers fans pay, yet few people drive to the games. The AVERAGE ticket price was $114 as of 2010, and the subways and trains are packed with people attending the games.

And even if everyone drove, I don't see why they would need any new parking spaces. People can park in the existing spaces that office workers use during the day. Toronto and Vancouver both have hockey arenas and footballs stadiums almost adjacent to each other in their downtowns, and the amount of public parking spaces within walking distance of them declines every year as surface parking lots give way to new condo towers. There is no reason to build any new spaces for a downtown stadium/arena.

As for actually getting NBA/NHL teams, who knows? Neither league looks like it will expand in the next 10 years, so they would almost certainly have to be relocations. Kansas City built a fancy new downtown arena to attract new teams and it hasn't worked.

Last edited by J. Will; Feb 24, 2012 at 9:08 PM.
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  #5  
Old Posted Feb 24, 2012, 9:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pesto View Post
The Seattle demographic looks a bit thin for an NBA team. Three-fourths of the teams are already losing money or break-even (which means losing if accounted for properly) and this looks like another case of a team that will start asking for money or threatening to leave in about 2 years. See, also, Sacramento, Memphis, New Orleans, etc.

Amazon, of course, looks like a winner.
The Sonics were loved and adored by Seattle until their departure to Oklahoma City in 2007 to become the Thunder. The only reason they lost their team was lack of funding for an arena and a shrewd move by Clay Bennett the recent owner of the team to move them to his hometown. I think the Sonics fans would file right back into a new arena to watch a new incarnation of their team even if many of them have turned their back on the NBA since that fateful day in 2007, while the rest have adopted the Blazers as their NBA team to root for.
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  #6  
Old Posted Feb 24, 2012, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by mhays View Post
A metro of 4,200,000 looks thin? I'm forgetting, but aren't we by far the largest city without NBA?
Just to play devil's advocate... if those 4.2 million people are whiter, better educated and more affluent than the average metro area, it would probably bunch below its weight in terms of interest in NBA basketball.

Then again, Portland has a team.
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  #7  
Old Posted Feb 24, 2012, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by 10023 View Post
Just to play devil's advocate... if those 4.2 million people are whiter, better educated and more affluent than the average metro area, it would probably bunch below its weight in terms of interest in NBA basketball.

Then again, Portland has a team.
I don't know if you've ever been to an NBA game, but it's mostly affluent white people.
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  #8  
Old Posted Feb 24, 2012, 10:46 PM
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I think there need to be more NBA teams in Pacific Northwest, either Vancouver or Seattle, if not both. Portland is too far away from other NBA teams now, it's really isolated. That's a big problem if you think about team travel. And as said, theat's a large population without an NBA team as well (and no NHL team either).
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  #9  
Old Posted Feb 24, 2012, 10:56 PM
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Either way, Amazon's additional 3,000,000 sf of offices in Downtown, in addition to their current 3,000,000 sf either Downtown or in nearby SLU, is bigger. Less press, less showy, but way more important. That's room for 15,000 more employees. Add the jobs multiplier and everyone's families, and that sort of (potential) employment growth would support population growth of 60,000 at least. And how about a big company doing it with high rises? It's even bigger than Microsoft's new spaces in 3.6 Downtown Bellevue highrises in the last boom.

As for basketball culture, we support it more than a lot of other cities. The Sonics had poor turnout under the carpet bagger than took the team, but it was generally decent or even excellent otherwise. And we certainly play the game, unlike hockey, which seems to be played mostly by transplants at a suburban rink or two and is never seen in the street. Quite a few Seattle kids have been making the NBA lately.
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  #10  
Old Posted Feb 25, 2012, 1:10 AM
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Originally Posted by J. Will View Post
I don't know if you've ever been to an NBA game, but it's mostly affluent white people.
Sure at the games, because tickets are expensive and the good seats are all corporate. I'd be more interested in the TV viewership demographics, and the merchandise sales.

I go to Knicks games from time to time when I get invited to a friend's company's box at MSG, but I don't think anyone I know ever watches them on TV or owns a hat. And that's exactly my point...
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  #11  
Old Posted Feb 25, 2012, 2:50 AM
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Seattleites don't buy team gear. At least not anywhere near on the scale of Middle America.
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  #12  
Old Posted Feb 25, 2012, 4:39 AM
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Originally Posted by mhays View Post
Seattleites don't buy team gear. At least not anywhere near on the scale of Middle America.
The Sounders seem to be doing pretty well with selling team gear but I would agree with you generally.
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  #13  
Old Posted Feb 25, 2012, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by pesto View Post
The Seattle demographic looks a bit thin for an NBA team.
Are you joking? Seattle was easily one of the best NBA cities. Led the league in total attendance multiple times. Sold out every game multiple seasons despite top 5 in the league ticket prices.

Seattle is a big time basketball city. Look at all of those Seattle area folks playing in the NBA.

The NHL would be a slam dunk too. Seattle is a great sports city, plus being near Vancouver and Portland would help an NHL franchise.
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Old Posted Feb 25, 2012, 10:22 AM
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Just to play devil's advocate... if those 4.2 million people are whiter, better educated and more affluent than the average metro area, it would probably bunch below its weight in terms of interest in NBA basketball.

That's very closed minded, and even racist?. Seattle is a great basketball city. Top 10 in the USA, easily.

Nate Robinson
Jamal Crawford
Jason Terry
Rodney Stuckey
Terrence Williams
Brian Scalabrine
Spencer Hawes
Martel Webster
Jon Brockman
Avery Bradley
Marvin Williams
Isaiah Thomas

That's an NBA roster amount of current NBA players from the Seattle area. Brandon Roy and Aaron Brooks were both 18+ points a game scorers in the NBA in recent seasons, both from Seattle. Luke Ridnour, another NBA player is from an hour and a half north of Seattle and Steve Nash is from a 75 mile ferry ride away in Victoria, BC.

Seattle has hosted 5 NCAA Final Fours. Led the NBA in total attendance multiple times. Was the first city to average over 20,000 fans a game over an entire NBA season.

Great great basketball city.
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  #15  
Old Posted Feb 25, 2012, 10:33 AM
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Seattleites don't buy team gear.
But folks in the suburbs do. The Sonics were the #2 selling jersey in the NBA in the mid 90's.
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  #16  
Old Posted Feb 25, 2012, 7:07 PM
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Shouldn't take it personally; the Seattle fans are fine. But the money involved in a local cable deal or worldwide broadcasting isn't there (Fox decided against one, if the rumor is correct; I could be wrong), which means it has to struggle to make ends meet. You have to have an owner that is willing to lose money or who can talk the taxpayers into supporting his vanity project.
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Old Posted Feb 25, 2012, 7:15 PM
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Originally Posted by mhays View Post
A metro of 4,200,000 looks thin? I'm forgetting, but aren't we by far the largest city without NBA?
Isn't it more like 3.4M for the metro? This would make it smaller than the IE (or the OC plus Northern SD County) either of which would be good locations for expansion. btw, if you put "LA" in the name (e.g., LA Royals) you could get a great cable deal from one of the big boys, and probably Latin and Asian distribution.

If you're saying that Seattle is better than New Orleans, I wouldn't disagree with you; but maybe not enough larger to warrant the cost of a new arena and a relocation. After all, New Orleans fans are pretty rabid as well.
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  #18  
Old Posted Feb 25, 2012, 9:08 PM
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Shouldn't take it personally; the Seattle fans are fine. But the money involved in a local cable deal or worldwide broadcasting isn't there
That's not true either! The Mariners and the future NBA/NHL teams stand to make hundreds of millions of dollars partnering or forming their own regional sports network. That's where the big money is. A regional sports network in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, and Western Montana would serve over 13,000,000 people, and that doesn't include another 4,000,000 people in southern BC.


The Seattle media has followed this issue closely since a divorce involving one of the Mariners owners has blown the lid off the RSN talk. The Mariners were valued at an extra $200,000,000 because their TV deal is up in a few years.

Read Geoff Baker's blog at the Seattle Times for info on the RSNs.
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  #19  
Old Posted Feb 25, 2012, 9:13 PM
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Isn't it more like 3.4M for the metro? This would make it smaller than the IE (or the OC plus Northern SD County) either of which would be good locations for expansion. btw, if you put "LA" in the name (e.g., LA Royals) you could get a great cable deal from one of the big boys, and probably Latin and Asian distribution.

If you're saying that Seattle is better than New Orleans, I wouldn't disagree with you; but maybe not enough larger to warrant the cost of a new arena and a relocation. After all, New Orleans fans are pretty rabid as well.
4.1 million in metro Seattle, and growing. That's more people than metro New Orleans, metro Memphis, and metro Oklahoma City combined! Washington was one of 6 states to add over 100,000 people since April 2010.

New Orleans fans are not rabid. They couldn't even sellout playoff games, before Hurricane Katrina. Watch Hornets games on TV. They are embarrassing with all of the empty seats in the lower bowl.


Have you looked at the arena details in Seattle? It basically costs the public nothing. The public contribution is $200,000,000 in bonds to be paid back by rent and ticket sales at the arena with all shortfalls being covered by the private arena corporation.
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Old Posted Feb 25, 2012, 9:17 PM
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That's a nice spot for Amazon buildings in Seattle. That part of town has seen a lot of construction lately but still has a half-finished feel.

I am also jealous of Seattle's up to date oblique aerial imagery in Google Maps.
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