Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Greedy Sonics demand public assistance

Representatives from the group that owns the Seattle Sonics (led by Clay Bennett) yesterday told Governor Christine Gregoire and legislators they want $300 million in public assistance (i.e. taxes) for a new arena, as well as financial help from whatever city gets the new complex. The total cost is apparently between $340 million and $360 million with around $170 million more for land and parking lots.

What's in it for taxpayers, you ask? Apparently nothing:
While saying Sonics owners will pay part of that cost, Bennett wrote that he could not yet provide a number because owners are still calculating how much money they would make off the new building.
That's right - taxpayers are going to be asked to foot almost all of the bill so that Bennett & Co. can make money.

To that, we say: no thanks.

It's time for elected officials to just say no. A message needs to be sent to the sports industry that the free ride is over (at least in the Evergreen State). You want a brand new, shiny arena? Then raise the money to pay for the cost yourselves. Don't arrogantly approach the Legislature with the expectation that you'll get a treasure chest overflowing with money placed at your feet.

Amazingly, the Sonics' lobbyist tried to claim they weren't asking for a handout:
"This is not the Sonics and the Storm coming down here and asking the taxpayers to fund the facility, it's asking the Legislature to authorize King County to engage in an economic development project," said lobbyist Linda Hull, who represents the team.
You could have just admitted it, Linda. Instead you tried to deny it. You can dress up your proposal with all the spin you want, but it's still a handout.

We have more important priorities to deal with in Washington State. Education, transportation, environmental cleanup, healthcare...the list goes on and on. Government's responsibility is not to cover the cost of stadiums for privately owned sports teams. The Sonics are asking for more help than was given to construct either Qwest Field or Safeco Field. That is outrageous!

The Sonics need to understand, in no uncertain terms, that they need to take care of the financial burden themselves without public assistance. Their ownership group includes four billionaires. With so many concerns in need of attention, the last thing elected officials should be doing is paying any attention to this nonsense.

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