Wednesday, December 3, 2008

TheNewsTribune.com: City of Seattle still in pursuit of NBA

The Washington State Task force Local Financing Options for King County did meet on Monday to accept proposals for capital investments in King County, paid for primarily by an existing sales tax on hotels and motels. Among the proposals was a presentation from the City of Seattle's Deputy Mayor, Tim Ceis.

The city's proposal was set in a presentation on the Seattle Center Master Plan, describing Key Arena as a part of the bigger site efforts.
The city's 75 million dollar proposal was presented right after the Washington State Convention and Trade Center proposed, a 766 million dollar expansion of its facility, dwarfing the city's request. The city and the convention center have agreed that there should be enough revenue to build both projects. These two projects are looking at a revenue stream that is drawn within Seattle.

The other groups requesting funds are looking at a slightly different fund that are drawn in King County. Those two revenue sources are separate, and are viewed as separate by the state committee members. The committee will produce one of two things within the next few weeks; a recommendation of which projects to move forward on if the committee is able to reach consensus, or a report to the legislature on all of the different options if consensus can not be reached within the committee.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune posted some of his audio he used for his newspaper report. It is on his blog titled, City of Seattle still in pursuit of NBA. The deputy mayor explains in the audio how he views the presentation, and one of the co-chairs of the state task force, Ross Hunter, gives his view and preference that local governments should have more control of how locally derived taxes are allocated. That's a good thing.

The presentation that was the focus of the local media was the request from the University of Washington for 150 million dollars to match 150 million in private contributions to remodel the football stadium. The stadium is 93 years young. That proposal brought harsh criticisms from Washington State University alumni. In a way this is good for the Key Arena proposal, it keeps the media busy with the dog and cat fight.

For all of these desires for funding the biggest risk is the state raiding the fund and using it for general fund obligations, even though they passed a law 5 months ago to keep that very thing from happening.

Here are the links to the city's presentation, click the meeting date to go to the state page for the rest of the agenda links:

Meeting Material
December 1, 2008
Agenda
4 Culture Presentation - Jim Kelly, Executive Director 4 Culture and Friends
University of Washington 1 - Scott Woodward, UW Athletic Director and Ron Crockett, Major Gifts Chair
University of Washington 2 - Scott Woodward, UW Athletic Director and Ron Crockett, Major Gifts Chair
Youth Athletic Facilities - Kaleen Cottingham, Director, Recreation and Conservation Office
Washington State Convention Center - Frank Finneran, Chair, Board of Directors, Washington State Convention and Trade Center
Seattle Center 1 - Tim Ceis, Deputy Mayor, City of Seattle
Seattle Center 2 - Tim Ceis, Deputy Mayor, City of Seattle

Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, November 29, 2008

KeyArena, or no KeyArena, that is Monday's Question

Monday, December 1st, the Washington State Task Force for Local Financing Option for King County is required to submit to the appropriate state committees their findings and recommendations.

Along with funding arts in King County, youth athletic programs, the Washington State Trade & Convention, and Husky stadium, is the request by the City of Seattle's request for funding to pay for Key Arena renovations.
If the task force does not recommend the Key Arena proposal then it is, more or less, dead (more or less).

Not recommending the renovation might also let Clay Bennett off the hook for 30 million dollars should Steve Ballmer not be able to buy a team within 5 years of the settlement date with the city, August 17, 2008.
The state has until December 31, 2009 to provide a funding resource for 1/4 of the cost toward an arena in order to put that part of the settlement in play.

This is a big step, and not the last step, should it move forward.

Part of the city's presentation is that the funding could be used in the near term on something else at Seattle Center, home to Key Arena, should there be a delay in Steve Ballmer being able to buy an NBA team. A major point here is to provide near term construction jobs. If the city did redirect the money to another project on the site then they would be on the hook to put the money back in the arena and provide 75 million of their own.

Committee co-chair Ross Hunter teld me in an email reply that he does not think this is "shovel ready" this Spring, and that he would be "astounded" if Steve Ballmer's Seattle Center Investment group made its investment before securing a team.
I agree with both of those things. What I will say is that very few of the requests are "shovel ready", activity at Seattle Center is likely much closer, and Key Arena still closer than Husky stadium and the convention center.

If there is doubt that Steve Balmer could secure a team in the near term I will direct anybody's attention to the Memphis Grizzlies home game attendance.

I would expect activity of some kind to start sometime, in some way, at Seattle Center this year, should the financing eventually get approved in the next couple months.
But, first things first, we need the committee recommendation.

House Bill 2765 New Section states the due dates for the task force, authorizes the activity, and the scope of their work.
Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Revised Agenda: Local Financing Options for King County, Joint Task Force

Local Financing Options for King County, Joint Task Force* - 12/01/08 9:00 am

Full Committee
(360) 786-7124
Bellevue City Hall
450 110th Ave. NE
Bellevue, WA

REVISED 11/20/2008 10:00 AM

Agenda:

1. Funding Arts in King County.
2. Financing for the renovation of the University of Washington Stadium.
3. Youth Athletic Facilities Fund grant program.
4. Washington State Convention Center presentation on future plans and funding.
5. Key Arena renovations.
6. Public comment.

~
So, is it better to close the show? I think yes, though I expect most questions that the City of Seattle would have to answer about Key Arena renovations have been answered. I see the convention center presentation precedes the city. I think in contrast the Key Arena project will look more mature, just my guess, based on them not being in the meeting materials to this point. See here.
Hopefully they will play well with others.


Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, November 22, 2008

SeattleTimes.com: Washington State regulators ask: Can blogging be lobbying?

The questions being asked by nameless, faceless “regulators” is: Is a blog that advocates for something a lobbying effort, should the blogger be treated a lobbyist by the state? I do not think this is too tough to figure out, and let’s not let the fact that I read the “newspaper” story online point a bright light on how this will play out.

I am going insert my opinion throughout the story. My opinion isn’t likely going to be more meaningful to the opinions that readers already have. Our opinions are our own truth, but differences in interpretation in definitions (common understanding of terms) is what the story is really about.

Here is why this matters to me, at the risk of displaying a spongy self-absorbency, I am a Communication Major at the University of Washington, admittedly and old one. I have cobbled together enough credits to coast out the last 10 credits of my degree as electives, planning to graduate in June. The area of concentration in my coursework has been Communication Technology and Society.

The state working toward resolving today’s media problems with new definitions in regulation, when necessary, is a great idea. The application of old media laws to new media are dumb to the situation of the present day. Washington State Public Disclosure Commission is working on this issue and should help clarify the situation.

Here are my opinions inserted throughout this article from the AP, posted at the SeattleTimes.com

Blogger beware? State regulators are wondering whether online political activism amounts to lobbying, which could force Web-based activists to file public reports detailing their finances.

In a collision of 21st century media and 1970s political reforms, the inquiry hints at a showdown over press freedoms for bloggers, whose self-published journals can shift between news reporting, opinion writing, political organizing and campaign fundraising.

State officials are downplaying any possible media rights conflict, pointing out that regulators have already exempted journalistic blogging from previous guidelines for online campaign activity.


What the government hasn't done very well is say who is a "journalist". The assumption is toward protecting traditional (big) media that is trying to transition from pulp to electrons. The Seattle PI has paid journalist/bloggers that enjoy the rights and protections under law any other, they have bucketed their bloggers into three sections: Seattle PI journalist (PI Staff Blogs), then they have their reader blogs (not so protected), then they have their "blogs for the rest of us" (not so protected).

It is extremely unlikely that ANY of those bloggers would be subject to lobbying questions, not because they are absent bias, but because of the newspaper media source enjoys the atmosphere of journalistic blogging because of where they blog.

Sound fair? Sound plausible?

If the state calls me (never happen) and demands that I open my empty wallet to them my options are limited, if demand the same thing of the three buckets of Seattle PI bloggers and without question the Seattle PI would come to the defense of any of them in order to reserve their paid staff and their blogs, a slippery slope.
Nobody knows if their citizen bloggers are getting paid, or are in the industry in some way that they are blogging about.
This is not the point of debate, not exactly, but it should be.

The issue at hand is defining the difference between somebody like me, the guy with a nasty blogging habit that openly advocates for something, and a lobbyist. I state right in my profile to you left who and what I am.
Not a problem for the state, I am not a lobbyist, let's hope.

Now, if I had handbills with my message and an extensive mailing list, and I was directly compensated to advocate, not a problem, I would be a lobbyist. Now replace handbill with blog, and mailing with emailing, am I still a lobbyist because I am being compensated? Likely, yes. What if I am not compensated at the time? Maybe. What if I write the same stories as "special to the Seattle Times" in the op/ed section of the newspaper? Maybe not.

Nobody is calling newspapers political lobbyist when they endorse candidates for office, even though they have advertisements from political parties, and I have to question if they get more from a given candidate after an endorsement. It is a newspaper so that's ok.

Some media is more special than others because of how the laws and rules are crafted. New rules are being crafted that will define new lines.

SeattleTimes.com
But the blogosphere is taking the notion seriously. One prominent liberal blogger in Seattle is already issuing a dare - if the government wants David Goldstein to file papers as a lobbyist, it will have to take him to court.

Goldstein, publisher of the widely read horsesass.org, wants to know how his political crusades could be subject to financial disclosures while newspaper writers, radio hosts and others in traditional media get a pass.

For most bloggers, Goldstein said, the work "is a hobby, a sideline. And yet they contribute greatly to the public debate and to the new journalism."


This is my hobby, too, I have not been paid a dime to advocate anything.

What about Brian Robinson? Pretty simple, he has a blog, SonicsCentral.com/blog. He also has an advocacy web site www.FixTheCenter.com that clearly says it is an advocacy site.
Not the same site, but he might get second guessed because SonicsCentral is a blog and not printed as a "newspaper". Sound fair? This blog and SonicsCentral are not structually different.

SeattleTimes.com
"When you start talking about regulating Internet activity, you open up a Pandora's Box," he said.

Political money in Washington is regulated by the state Public Disclosure Commission, which compiles reports on candidates' and lobbyists' finances and makes the information available to the public.

The agency was created after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure in 1972. A second measure in 1992 added contribution limits and other reforms, leading to a set of rules that the state calls "one of the most exhaustive disclosure laws in the country."

Under the law, lobbyists must register with the state, and submit regular reports about who pays them, how they spend money, and which issues they're working on.

Groups that don't fit the traditional definition of "lobbyist" also have to file reports, provided they meet certain spending thresholds while leading public campaigns intended to influence public policy.

Earlier this year, the PDC was asked by some lobbyists whether calls to action made over the Internet fell under any lobbying regulations, and the agency began probing the topic.
"One of the issues was the grass roots involvement, in terms of prompting individuals, in a call to action, to contact legislators, to send in letters," said Doug Ellis, the PDC's assistant director.

Business interests asked, "Can we do the same kind of thing? Is it proper? Do we have to report it?" Ellis said.

The question of blogging soon entered the picture. For online political junkies like Goldstein, stirring up the public and urging readers to sound off about public policy is a key part of the mission.

But, as Goldstein pointed out in a recent public meeting on the topic, the same could be said for newspaper editorialists or radio commentators - and they're exempt from reporting their income and spending under an exemption created to protect the media.

"What you're basically saying is, if you want to raise any money at all, now you have to report," Goldstein said. "It's treating us entirely different than other media outlets."


There is the nut to crack.
Nothing is telling a business that they can not have a blog, but asking for money and advocating on that blog may be seen as a lobbying effort, dull as the blog might be. The business community is saying that it isn't part of the lobbying effort if other blogs can raise money for a cause.

What may be the meaningful hair splitting is that I am not asking anybody for money, the horsesass.org is, and so is the SeattleTimes.com, so each can keep doing what they are doing in the public interest.

Having a bias and the desire to communicate news and information for that purpose is not lobbying (Fox News can do it, so can horsesass.org).

Having a business and then advocating for that business is just not the same thing. Wine magazines have advertisements for (you guessed it) wine. Having a wine business and publishing a wine magazine, about your wine, is not news, it is an advertisement. Deliver that publication to state senators to advocate for tax breaks for the wine industry and it is a lobbying effort.
Wine Spectator publishing a story about the industry benefitting from possible tax breaks is NOT lobbying.
Pulp or electrons, the same logic should apply. The question becomes how PDC defines all of this.


Much of the discussion about blogging as lobbying boils down to the evolving distinction of who is and is not a member of the media.

While blogs and other online-only information sources are showing greater influence, traditional outlets - particularly newspapers - are struggling with a deeply wounded business model.

"Our definitions of all of this are changing so dramatically, right in front of our eyes," said Sree Sreenivasan, of Columbia University's journalism school.

Laws have often defined media by describing the form in which the information is delivered - a newspaper, a magazine, or a licensed TV or radio station. But the Internet is eroding those tried-and-true distinctions, making such definitions sound hopelessly outdated.

In this environment, Sreenivasan said, regulators facing a question about who qualifies as media might need to undertake a much more detailed examination of the content being produced.

"It's very hard to put them in a box: 'This is OK, this is not OK,'" Sreenivasan said. "It's a waste of everybody's time. I'd say, what is the work they're doing?"

The PDC's Ellis doesn't expect commissioners to impose financial reporting for bloggers who a perform a journalistic function. Since that type of activity was excluded in campaign finance rules, he said, "I don't see any reason why they would veer from past practice."

Lobbyist Steve Gano, who represents business clients in Olympia, said he's not troubled by activist bloggers who practice a form of journalism. But the increasing presence of Web-based advocacy groups are a different story, he said.


Well, no, before blogs there were pitchforks and torches carried by people advocating something be done by authorities using the communicative means of, and "advertising" by, encouraging more people with pitchforks and torches to march on the town hall.

The pitchfork and torch makers were not soliciting the local farmer to go to the local authorities to advocate for more pitchforks and torches, for the expressed benefit of the pitchfork and torch makers.


If an online group doesn't have to report the type of activities that would otherwise be considered lobbying, Gano asked, why shouldn't lobbyists just close up shop and relaunch their efforts online?

"There's a new business model out there," Gano said. "I can just sit at home, e-mail folks from here, and never have to disclose who my financial backers are."
---
On the Net:

PDC: http://www.pdc.wa.gov


The lobbyist does have a point, but the question is how somebody can tell the difference?
Maybe a simple note on a blog that says, "I just a nut that wants something done about Key Arena (or insert your topic) and I am gonna write about it. If you give me money, that's your problem", or something like that.

If you have a lobbyist pulplication, you engage in those activities without disclosing your motives it is against the current law. Using electrons to do that same thing does not make is fundimentally different.


The story was published here: SeattleTimes.com: Washington State regulators ask: Can blogging be lobbying?
By CURT WOODWARD
Associated Press Writer
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

FixTheCenter.com





By now the readers that go to http://SonicCentral.com have been encouraged by Brian Robinson in his story about Ray Allen to go to a new web site, www.fixthecenter.com

It is not difficult to understand why, the Sonics franchise is gone, as of last July; the franchise went to Oklahoma City, and the symbols went to the Museum of History & Industry in Seattle. There isn't a Sonics to Save, but there is a new future to try for, and the arena is the key.

What is left is Seattle Center's Key Arena as the main focus. Through the trials and tribulations the utility of Key Arena stayed unresolved for NBA interests, and civic interests.

Few people can argue that watching an NBA game is anything but great. What is not great is nearly everything else about the arena. Fewer people can argue that Key Arena that going to an event there is anything but slightly above average. The Seattle Thunderbirds hockey team will complete their evacuation from the facility to Kent, Washington (though they have the desire to still call themselves "Seattle"). They didn't leave because of anything but the facility the lease terms.

What is not slightly above average is the use of Key Arena by non-civic, non-pro basketball activities. The Everett Events Center will draw arts and entertainment acts that could be held at Key Arena by using the curtain to isolate the activity. The new Kent facility, where the Thunderbirds now play, will also compete for similar sized activities. For larger events are completely bypassing Seattle. Some of the acts you see are there for more than one show, getting in and out of the facility is a challenge.

Regardless, if you are a Sonics fan, the means to an end has always been an arena solution. Right now, the only feasible solution in Seattle is a complete renovation of Key Arena. Expect the city to have the NBA consult on the Steve Ballmer portion of the arena.

We are were we are.

A few days ago Brian Robinson sent me an email letting me know that SonicsCentral.com will direct people to visit www.fixthecenter.com

I write stories there at SonicsCentral, Brian said I was welcome to write at the new site, though nothing has been arranged. The new site is advocacy web site (Sports and Activities for Families (501c4). I will likely write stories there, I am not a lobbyist, I am not paid, they are not obligated to tell me anything or publish anything I write.
If I choose to write about their public activities I post it here. But beyond that, I write about this subject and until something is arranged for me to write there I will keep writing here.

Begin forwarded message:
Mr Baker
Date: October 25, 2008 6:01:35 PM PDT
To: Brian Robinson
Subject: Could you answer a few questions about SC?

Could you answer a couple easy questions?
Your web site, SonicsCentral.com, now encourages those readers to www.fixthecenter.com, what will the change in focus mean for the readers of SonicsCentral.com?

The new site is likely going to attract and broaden the types of people that may not have any interest in NBA basketball, any words of advice you want to give to posters and readers of SonicsCentral stories and threads?

Do you see this new effort to take on stories and conversations about the entire Seattle Center site?
Will you have stories written by local politicians, and media people, similar to a reader might see at Crosscut.com?
~
I sent the email with the questions 3 weeks ago, and have not had any answers and there hasn't been anything from Brian letting me know about writing on the new site, like, how access the site.
Over the past couple weeks there was a tab for a forum on the site, that is gone.
I am not sure what its diminished function is supposed to provide the public.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

SLAM ONLINE: Nothing But Glove

There is great story about Gary Payton in Slam. He talks about his career a little, and how he views his career and basketball now. Payton mentions how he still bleeds Green and Gold, and supporting Save Our Sonics. He still has business in Seattle, and the GP Foundation.

I went to a GP Foundation/JL Scott charity basketball game at Key Arena on September 9th, 2001, before everything in this world was flipped upside down. They raised $250,000 that night, between the game and auction (I did not go to the auction, I just went to the game).

http://slamonline.com/online/the-magazine/2008/11/nothing-but-glove/
Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Monday, November 17, 2008

SeattlePI.com: NBA pitch is no 'slam-dunk'

Front page of the Seattle PI is the report of the City of Seattle's effort to get the State of Washington to authorize 75 million dollars in funding for stadiums and exhibition infrastructure in Seattle to have 1% of the current 7% sales tax on Seattle hotels to be redirected to the Seattle Center for either construction around Key Arena, or to other portions of Seattle Center should an NBA team not become available for Steve Ballmer to buy.

Read it here!
Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Added to this story, my opinion:
The reporter quoted Ross Hunter, Tim Ceis, but not Brian Robinson. The reporter noted that the fund was raided last year but did not mention the Senate Bill 6638 was passed into law to prevent that from happening again. The reporter did not mention the state task force or that there is a meeting December 1st. Other than what was missing, I thought what was included was pretty good reporting. Ross Hunter's quotes are the framework for negotiation, the city has work to do politically by selling this at a time of budget cuts and it has to have an agreement with the convention center folks in order for this to happen.
It has been and will come down to that, not a shock to you or I. I have been saying it for a few months.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Seattle Times: Gregoire pushes economic-stimulus plan

Hey, check it out, the governor of Washington State says that not only does she have to reduce spending on some programs, but she needs to find a way to stimulate the state economy.
How about tapping a fund that can only be used for stadium and exhibition construction?

Read the report at http://seattletimes.com
Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, November 9, 2008

David Brewster, Crosscut.com: Let the infrastructure roll!

Mr. Brewster has written a story about the local need for infrastructure spending to stimulate the economy. Naturally he mentions the Convention Center, but notes that it could get "bogged down in planning".
That is because they do not have a plan yet, they have a want. A plan isn't a plan without a schedule. The City of Seattle could act on that 75 million dollars right now.

3 weeks until the state task force meets. The city can beat the convention center to the finish line with an actionable plan.
Read David Brewster's story here at http://crosscut.com

December 1st Seattle's Arena Funding Proposal is Due

Today is November 9th, between now and the December 1st meeting of the Washington State Task Force on Local Funding Options in King County will meet at Bellevue City Hall the City of Seattle will have to produce a formal proposal requesting funding.

The formal agenda for December 1st has not yet been published. Between now and then I expect the agenda to fill with a variety of proposals for the task force to revue prior to the meeting. I expect that as the city gets closer to the meeting date that the public will become more engaged, even in minor ways, by interested parties.

What, if anything, will Steve Ballmer and Matt Griffin's Seattle Center Investors (SCI) say in support of the city's efforts with the state?
What, if anything, will Brian Robinson's lobbying group Sports and Activities for Families (SAF) say in support of the city's efforts with the state?
And will there be columns and editorials written by the Seattle newspapers?
And will there be resistance expressed by the Washington State Convention & Trade Center written by David Brewster at Crosscut.com?
To the last question, the city has work to do there. There is the point to turn resistance into common support.

The state committee members that were running for re-election have won. The governor, Chris Gregoire has also won re-election. Gregoire mentioned in one of the press conferences this past week that she is hopeful the federal government will provide a jobs based stimulus package. She also mentioned that she will be proposing a stimulus package near the end of the year. She said that now is not the time to be raising taxes, but what of existing taxes? Well, she has to cut spending to balance the budget. State Senate Bill 6638 went into law last July 1st that prevents the state from taking money from hotel tax for general fund uses (again) but there are funds there. Those funds can only be spent on infrastructure of stadium, convention, cultural centers.

I expect to hear the words "stimulus package" in connection to the proposals by the City of Seattle, and Kent, and Renton, and. . .
This is one of the few revenue sources that can be used to stimulate jobs right away.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The President Shoots Hoop

The President Shoots Hoop

Why it doesn't matter: what politicians do for sport when they are not working is meaningless, unless they are shooting people face.

Why it does matter: like it or not, Americans take an interest in leaders as a way to see how they are or are not like them, and find an abstract way to understand who the President is as a person.

Here is my impression of what sport the president is identified with,
played it or not.
Greorge W. Bush owned a baseball team.
Bill Clinton chased women.
George Bush sr played college baseball.
Ronald Reagan is identified with football, pretend and otherwise.
Jimmy Carter played baseball/softball at pick nicks.
Gerald Ford played college football.
Richard Nixon had a bowling alley installed in the White House.

Barack Obama plays basketball on the day of election for good luck and to relax.

Sport, in some tiny way, becomes part of our national cultural identity.

Note to Seattle: We now hoop.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Proposition B: Marine Freight Preservation and Bayfront Redevelopment Initiative - San Diego County, CA

Let's see if San Diego votes on Tuesday for redeveloping the waterfront. It includes a variety of proposed uses, including a new sports arena. The San Jose Mercury News reported that developer Frank Gallagher proposed a basketball arena with a retractable roof.
The complex would be built on a massive deck on the waterfront where there is currently a commercial port. A replacement for the Chargers stadium could be part of it.

A tough sell.

B2, or not B2, that was the Pier 46 question. The answer in Seattle was no.
http://www.smartvoter.org/2008/11/04/ca/sd/prop/B/
Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Friday, October 31, 2008

Mr. Baker has sent you a video from tvw.org, Washington State Joint Task Force Local Financing Options for King County

The lesson is: Do not stop looking for information that you want.

About 3:26 minutes into the linked video that actual meeting takes place.
The meeting is the July 16, 2008, of the Washington State Joint Task Force Local Financing Options for King County

Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone
Begin forwarded message:
From: tvw@tvw.org
Date: October 31, 2008 8:03:45 AM PDT
To:Mr. Baker
Subject: Mr. Baker has sent you a video from tvw.org

Mr. Baker has sent you a video from tvw.org
 Local Financing Options for King County Local Financing Options for King County held on July 16, 2008 9:00am
Task Force administration (selection of Chair, discussion of goals, meeting schedules), overview of stadium-related material in King County, review of 2008 legislation (SB 6638 - reallocating existing lodging taxes for heritage & arts programs), other.


Please click here to watch video or paste this url into your browser address bar: http://www.tvw.org/media/mediaplayer.cfm?EvId=2008070075




please do not reply to this email.
for questions or concerns please email support@tvw.org


The web is a wonderful thing.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

CrossCut.com: New tax for KeyArena? A big maybe

David Brewster at Crosscut.com has taken another run at expressing the Washington State Convention & Trade Center's (WSCTC) point of view on the City of Seattle's desire to use the hotel tax that is collected within Seattle for the state/public portion of Seattle's Key Arena renovation.

WSCTC is closer to identifying an actual site to expand to, they are not there yet. They are closer to knowing how big the new facility will be, they are not there yet. They do want to expand in order to satisfy the over population of hotels in Seattle.

It is interesting that people comment at Crosscut and in the stories at the Seattle Times and Seattle PI that the money should go toward Pike Place Market because it is such a tourist attraction. The question there is: is Pike PLace Market the reason people come to Seattle?

The hotel folks are wanting an expansion of convention space to draw people in from far and wide. I do not see them asking for Pike Place Market to be expanded. I am sure they do not want it to look like a dump, and the city has responded with a measure on the ballot next Tuesday. People will vote for that, not me, but people that comment on these kinds of stories in media outlets.

Having a 15 to 17 thousand seat arena that can actually attract major out of town non-sports events seams to be more in line with what the hotel people are wanting, a place for people to gather for events. While those people are here from out of town I am sure they will go to Pike Place Market as something to do while they are here for their event.

As far as WSCTC providing construction jobs, they are much further away from having an actionable plan than the Key Arena project. If the city had money 6 months ago I think we would see hard hats at Seattle Center today marking up the site for construction.

Something not quite said in David Brewster's story is that unstable timeline of getting a team into Key Arena, and Steve Ballmer paying for the sports effected portion of the renovation, 150 million dollars worth. That is an unknown to them, and I do not think they want the schedule sliding into a window where the WSCTC would want to break ground and have funding for its activity, fair, or fare enough.

What Deputy dog Tim Ceis is telling David Brewster is that they want to use the state money and do the public portion of the renovation even if there isn't an NBA team available right away. That is the hard sell, that isn't the impression they had been giving in public. They had position much of this as just having revenue available if a NBA team could be procured by Steve Ballmer.
The city had a study two years ago that said that Key Arena would need at least 30 million in basic upgrades just to make it a minor league venue without the NBA. That infrastructure and non-sports construction would have to happen no matter what happened with the NBA or state. It looks to me like Ceis and the state are resolving the WSCTC uneasiness with the soft NBA timeline by funding that statement of work, and whatever else they are including (parking garage, or enclosure of the Key footprint?) with the state portion. If this is the case then it does make some sense for the effected WSCTC, and it could infuse the area with construction jobs in a hurry.

This could satisfy WSCTC timeline concerns, stimulate the economy with some jobs right now, and show the NBA that we are going to improve the facility on our own no matter what Ballmer does do. Being able to commit putting an NBA team in Seattle would go much faster if construction was in motion, even if it isn't the sports effected portion of the statement of work.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TheNewsTribune.com: The City of Seattle will present its proposal on Dec. 1 to a task force created by the Legislature

In yesterday's Tacoma news Tribune Eric D. Williams reported that on December 1st the City of Seattle will present its proposal for renovating Key Arena to the Washington State Joint Task Force on Local Financing Options for King County.

A couple interesting paragraphs at the end of the story should give readers an idea of what role Brian Robinson is taking.

The city will have another supporter championing its proposal in Olympia. Brian Robinson, co-founder of the group Save Our Sonics, is part of a lobbying group called Sports and Activities for Families. The group plans to help the city’s funding proposal pass in Olympia. The group's effort will be led by Ryan Dicks, son of U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair.

"We want to put this issue in front of the legislators and make sure it doesn’t get dropped," Robinson said. "We’re going to go to work to make sure that it stays front and center and receives some of the publicity that the city hasn’t been good in attracting."

Tax money key to arena renovation, ERIC D. WILLIAMS; eric.williams@thenewstribune.com, Published: October 28th, 2008 12:30 AM


The Sonics were not Saved, okay. The franchise left, the symbols went to the Museum of History and Industry.
The effort here, and in other places, is to resolve the arena issue. My interest is centered on the Seattle Center, and that a dead Key Arena on the Seattle center site is a drag on the entire site. Many of us hard core Sonics fans have let the idea of the team, and the NBA, go as a goal. Brian Robinson has written as much at SonicsCentral.com: What if we don’t miss them?
The question Mr. Robinson asks is this:
I have to ask former Sonics fans, and fans of the NBA, what the risk to the league is in our valuable market. What if we simply don’t miss them? What if we fail to get it done this year and then decide not to spend more effort on it going forward?


My answers are these:
The risk to the league is that the value is contained in the interest and value of the markets competing for the product (pretty basic business value relationship). If you can not find a buyer for a house then the value drops. I think this is where the NBA really is, that they are a bubble economy, and that Seattle, as well as Oklahoma City are presenting remodeled arenas as preferred venues. Kansas City is offering the same thing, St. Louis as well. I will not be shocked to see the Kings effort to build a new arena in a major new development in California fall through. That is not just a function of the current economy, but the actual market for the NBA. Key Arena renovation is the best offer this market, or any market, should be offering the NBA product. They are 3 years away from reliving the NHL process of 5 years ago if they are not careful. David Stern is not careful, he is chasing the business model that crushed the NHL, nobody wins.

What if Brian Robinson and the lobbying group called Sports and Activities for Families, along with the City of Seattle, fail? Then they should accept the reality that they made the best of this effort, but the public/private partnership to rebuild an arena will not produce a solution. Done.
Thanks Brian.
City, you are now obligated to get out of the way of a private group that may want to build a new arena, maybe partner with that group to provide a way for a private group to locate land in the city for an arena, and figure out a redueced role or date to close it.

Key Arena is not likely going to survive in this market long term without a significant upgrade. Either compete or not, if the answer is not then crush most of Key Arena and use the bowl as an out door, partly covered amphitheater, when a new private arena takes its place 10 years from now.

I started my blog right after the city and Clay Bennett agreed that there would be a settlement. I have moved on. Brian Robinson has moved on. Move on.
If you still want NBA basketball, it only happens with an arena.
If you never want to see NBA basketball again and you live in Seattle, your public arena is dying, you can get a 300 million dollar upgrade for 150 million dollars in mostly hotel taxes, or Sonics fans parking and buying tickets.

The fans have mostly moved on from the team leaving, hopefully the sports haters can as well, and recognize that their memory of Key Arena is the only current thing about that public building.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

SonicsCentral.com: Both Candidates on the Record

Both Candidates on the Record
The following was posted at SonicsCentral by Brian Robinson of Save Our Sonics.
We were very thankful to recieve a statement yesterday from Governor Gregoire. I will say that my own communication with her office has been excellent and that the delay in recieving her statement was 100% our error.

I found it especially interesting that she mentions the scope of the construction project and the jobs created. This is a change in rhetoric that is pretty substantial and something I was hoping would get mentioned for a long time:

Statement from Christine Gregoire:
It was a sad day for our region the day the Sonics left.

My husband Mike and I are big sports fans. In fact, we were original Seahawk season ticket holders, and we already have season tickets to the Seattle Sounders FC.

I understand how strongly Sonics fans feel about the loss of the team, and I want to tell you the truth about how we got where we are today.

Let’s talk about what happened earlier this year. The last ditch effort by the new ownership group to improve Key Arena had to be supported by the Legislature in Olympia. Only the Legislature could grant King County the authority to raise taxes for the arena.

This vote wasn’t taken because it would have failed. If a vote had been forced, it would have failed. It’s that simple.

If the legislature rushed to a vote and it failed, the message sent to the NBA would be that Washingtonians won’t support professional basketball. And that is not true.

Now, let’s talk about where we are today. First and foremost, we need to work together to make Key Arena attractive to another NBA team and find out how to bring them here.

My office has been working with those involved on a proposal to use existing tourist tax revenue to fund renovations at the Key. Currently there is a seven percent tax on hotel rooms in Seattle; this money goes to convention center operations. The plan, which is still being negotiated, would take one-tenth of that revenue stream and put it toward the renovation of the Key.

This existing revenue would be joined with a large private investment from the local ownership group and presumably, if the legislature acts, from $30 million from the Oklahoma City owners as part of their settlement.

I want to work with the local ownership group and you to see what can be done.

Our nation has found itself in troubling economic times and while we must find balance in funding our priorities, a $300 million construction project will help create jobs in the short term. In addition to placing Seattle in a position to regain the Sonics, a long-term result of this effort would be the start of a re-energized Seattle Center.

What would my Republican opponent do? I don’t know. He was asked directly at the KING5 debate and he wouldn’t answer the question.

He has said many times that he would fix our roads and cut taxes. But last week he told The Herald in Everett that he wouldn’t do either of those for at least three years, maybe longer.

He hasn’t promised to do anything to bring an NBA team to our state.

When he was a senator, he opposed letting voters decide if they wanted to fund Seahawks Stadium. There was no risk to him. He just had to give the authorization for a vote, but he wouldn’t.

Maybe this is just fine with you - but not me. I think the only thing he’s demonstrating here is political opportunism.

We may not agree on everything, but at least I’ll give you a straight answer.

During my second term, I will work with your group and local leaders to look at our priorities, our resources and continue to try and bring the NBA back to Seattle.

Statement from Dino Rossi:
October 20, 2008
Back in the spring our elected officials in Olympia, for the 4th year in a row, decided they were not interested in being proactive in keeping the Sonics in Seattle. Despite being briefed in advance, and presented with a proposal early on, they claimed they didn’t have time to adopt a “no brainer” solution. In fact they spent more time making excuses for not having time than it would have taken to give the City of Seattle permission to move ahead in negotiations… and then they went home early. This permission would have prevented the relocation approval from the NBA which in the end became the driving force for the buyout the city accepted.

As you all recall you flooded Olympia with emails and phone calls swamping the message takers and showing overwhelming support for a solution. You sent the message loud and clear that a failure this time would have repercussions.

This year is our last chance
So now we are faced with going back to Olympia in January, for the 5th year in a row, and asking that the City be given permission to route surplus tourist taxes only collected in Seattle to fill out the last $75 million of a 50/50 public/private investment to save Seattle Center from collapse and prepare Key Arena for restoring SuperSonics basketball to Seattle. With this proposal we will have our team back within 5 years or Clay Bennett will be forced to pay the city $30 million of what little he has left after his ownership group was decimated in the recent stock market crash. A failure this next legislative session will signal the end of any short term chance of restoring our team and lets Clay Bennett of the hook for this payment.
With the definition of insanity being repeating the same actions and expecting a different result we have to ask ourselves if we trust the current elected officials in Olympia to back up the statements made last spring with action?

If you do, then by all means vote for the same people who showed no consideration for the urgency of the situation, if you don’t then you should give this serious consideration when casting your votes. Save Our Sonics is committed to working with whoever is in Olympia to resolve this problem but now is our chance to make sure those we will be working with are going to be solution oriented.

Now the control is on your hands
Save Our Sonics is not a political action committee. We do not spend money advocating for or against any candidate for elected office, or endorse any candidates, but we do want our members to be well informed when they cast their votes. We have extended an invitation to both candidates for Governor to submit a statement of support to our group. To date only one has responded and that statement is included below. If we get a response from the other we will forward it to you later. We also urge you to contact the candidates for your districts Legislative seats and ask them how they will respond to this problem come January and educate your friends and family who will lead in Olympia and who should be replaced.

Statement from Dino Rossi:

I proudly stood along the parade route in 1979 when the Sonics won the championship. I never wanted the Sonics to leave Seattle. Early this year, I was asked to remain silent on the proposed Key Arena renovation offer by representatives of the group of private investors so Governor Gregoire could support it without suffering political repercussions. But when I read the headline of the Oklahoman newspaper near the end of the legislative session that read ‘Washington governor gives up: Official says there is no saving Sonics,’ I knew we had to act and I publicly supported the public-private partnership. Still, Gregoire remained silent.

Bringing NBA basketball back to Seattle will require creative thinking and courageous leadership on behalf of elected officials and basketball fans. As governor, I will actively support efforts to make this happen. What happened with the Sonics is evidence that Olympia is missing real leadership. I’m running for Governor to start making decisions and fixing problems facing our state. Professional basketball has been an important piece of our cultural fabric here in Washington, but now that piece is missing. I look forward to the day where we once again have an NBA basketball team in Seattle, and as governor I’ll work to make that happen.

Please make sure you vote!


In the end, they can fight about who has a real desire to solve the problem, and that both failed to deliver votes last legislative session.
I win either way.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, October 25, 2008

KING COUNTY PROJECTS FINANCING TASK FORCE

Here is the link to the Joint Task Force on Local Financing Options for King County

And the October 1st meeting where they collected presentations. Including information on the current arenas in the NBA, directly linked here.

The July 10th letter from the Mayor of Seattle describes the request that is consistent with all media reports over the past three months, including yesterday.
Letter from Mayor Nichols, Gregory J Nichols, Mayor of Seattle


Here is the direct link to the Qwest Field presentation, QWEST FIELD AND EVENT CENTER
Presentation to Joint Task Force,
King County Local Financing
Options
October 1, 2008


Here is the University of Washington's blog post from July, their presentation is here!

Here is an unofficial and independent source of input and information, and is not affiliated with any school, team or league. called Tell a Husky! supporting the University of Washington's effort.

Some day there will be a Seattle Center presentation, right?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Seattle PI: A new NBA team here?

Reported in the Seattle PI today, front page, above the fold was a story titled A new NBA team here?
Guys with little else to do right now, that happen to be newspaper reporters, were noted sports columnist Art Thiel, and former Sonics Beat reporter Gary Washburn.

This is the time that I expected stories to come out, to quote myself from Saturday, September 13, 2008:
The reality for the city, Hunter, Chris Gregoire, Rossi, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, and Brian Robinson, is that the first NBA season without the Sonics in Seattle is Tuesday, October 28th, one full week before election day. This is in time to be right in front of the majority citizens that vote by mail.

The first NBA preseason game is October 5th (I had to look it up). The sports columnists, reporters, journalists, bloggers, sports radio, will have nothing much to cover in the two weeks leading up to that because the Seattle Seahawks have a bye week the prior Sunday. That is two weeks without meaningful local NFL coverage. The Seattle Mariners season officially ends September 28th. The NBA, and the missing team story, will fill the hole in the sports section at some point during that period. What else are they going to write about?


Well, Mr Thiel and Washburn have made great use of their downtime between baseball season and whatever it is that is being called football right now. I was worried that the kind of story that would be written would rip down any real hope, or present such an incomplete story that the average reader would dismiss future efforts out-of-hand.
Thankfully, this is not the case.
The dynamic duo did a reasonably thorough job of stating the basic parts of the tax elements, and the needed quotes from the three legs that an NBA deal is set on: political figures, ownership, and David Stern.
Many of the details I have speculated about here, or re-reported from a variety of places.

Let's take a look at the meaty bits from the report.

A new plan to divert a portion of hotel-tax money from the state convention center to a remodel of KeyArena could help Seattle begin pursuing a replacement NBA team as soon as 2010.


That is pretty solid: tax revenue, Key Arena, replacement team as soon as 2010. My early guess was 2011, I would feel good about being wrong there.

NBA Commissioner David Stern said Thursday "positive" talks have gone on between the league and a potential ownership group headed by Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, who led an ill-fated plan to save the Sonics earlier this year.


Stern, and Ballmer have talked according to Stern. This really should put to rest the fretting some fans have been doing about this situation.

Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis confirmed the talks, and said he was optimistic that this time around the city's request for state authorization will meet little resistance when the Legislature convenes in January.

"It should be noncontroversial, because it's a city-only tax that already exists and will not be an increase," Ceis said of the latest attempt to find a long-sought public portion of a proposed $300 million renovation for a building currently deemed financially obsolete by the National Basketball Association.

"If we can get our funding package together this session, we can start to work with the Ballmer group on identifying a team for Seattle, but probably not until 2010."

Stern, speaking to reporters on his annual season-tipoff conference call, made his first public comments on Seattle since the Sonics left.

"I don't want to mislead, so I will say that we have had some contact and we're aware of what's going on," he said. "I'd rather not deal with the specifics of it at this time, but we have had some positive contact."

While no city official has talked to Stern, Ceis said standard procedure always has been for Stern to go through the owner, or potential owner. He confirmed that Stern and Ballmer have talked, and Ballmer conveyed the new funding plan for the public portion of the remodel.


That is your deal right there. The city has insulated a funding resource from as many people that thought they had a right to say no about it. Until there is an official source for the money you are not going to get solid responses from David Stern, and why should he.
Here is the tax:
The tax under consideration is different from the so-called stadium taxes from King County that the Sonics, as well as the University of Washington, pursued in recent sessions to fund their sports building projects.

A 7 percent tax on all hotel bills within the city long has been dedicated to convention center operations. The city, which is still negotiating with the hotel industry and center officials on the proposal, seeks to divert one-tenth of the revenue to Seattle Center and the KeyArena project.

Ceis said that growth in hotel-room rentals over the past 10 years is generating enough revenue for the diversion to produce over a 15-year period the $75 million necessary to finance construction debt without compromising convention center operations.


There is more than was planned, nobody gets hurt, and he didn't mention that the tax really can't be used for anything else, not for schools, not for lost puppies. It doesn't come from there and the hotel owners that are impacted by its application don't want it going there. That's a general fund responsibility, this isn't general fund money. It's the law.

The settlement, which paid off the $34 million in construction bond debt remaining from a remodel completed in 1995, included a provision for another $30 million to the city by 2013 if an NBA team had not moved to Seattle. But the city had to have an NBA-ready arena, or the funding committed for one, by Dec. 31, 2009.

For practical purposes, that means the pending session in Olympia will be last chance for any funding requiring state authorization.

Asked why the city didn't come up with this idea while the Sonics were still in town, Ceis said the focus was on finding revenue that didn't require state approval. Even though this revenue still requires a legislative OK, the source is strictly city taxes, not county, and provides an upgrade for a city-owned building that helps draw tourists to city hotels.

"It's the path of least resistance, and there's no competition for the funds," he said.

At the time of the settlement, which was widely criticized as insufficient for the loss of a 41-year civic institution, the city defended itself in part by saying it was necessary to repair the damaged relationship with the NBA in order to have a shot at another team. The $30 million penalty gave the NBA and Bennett a financial incentive to help fill the void.

Ceis said that if the $300 million funding were in hand, the city would firm up the remodel plans that would allow Ballmer to pursue a team. He stressed that the city would not go forward with the remodel until an ownership group secured a team.


What Ceis is not saying is that the law that this funding was part of, and Safeco Field that the University of Washington wants, wasn't changed until March, and didn't go into effect until July 1, 2009. The source was there, but not available to Seattle to use.
Senate Bill 6638
Passed by the Senate March 13, 2008
YEAS 43 NAYS 6

Now, bring in the undertaker:

Since the NBA has no current plans to expand domestically, the only option would be to relocate a team from another city.

As many as half the teams in the NBA may have had operating losses last season, and some of the smaller-market teams have been in financial trouble for a while, including Memphis, New Orleans and Milwaukee. The Sacramento Kings also have been stymied in securing public funding for a replacement building for Arco Arena.

Unless a team is at the end of its lease, the Ballmer group would be in the same position Bennett was in Seattle -- an out-of-town owner attempting to pull away a team under contract with its city.

Ceis said that if a team is secured, the city has provisions to do the remodel before arrival, or to work around a six-month NBA regular season.

Matt Griffin, a Seattle real estate developer and Ballmer friend who served as his spokesman in the earlier attempt to save the Sonics, confirmed by phone Thursday night the group's awareness of and interest in the city's new initiative, but said little about the potential pursuit of a team.

"The first thing has to be the funding," he said. "We told the mayor in April that we were interested in keeping KeyArena from becoming a white elephant that drags down Seattle Center and lower Queen Anne.

"We can't take step two before we take step one. Once the funding happens, we can roll up our sleeves and take a look at what needs to be done."

A new NBA team here?
Tax diversion plan could give city the money for KeyArena
By ART THIEL AND GARY WASHBURN
P-I REPORTERS


That's right, Seattle will likely take a failing franchise from another city, a city that will be a smaller market, that may have been placed in that market by design of David Stern's plan to have his teams be the big show in smaller towns. Well, some of those towns simply can not afford David Stern's NBA, even when they supply a new building.

What David Stern wanted in Seattle was a building that can support a franchise. Hopefully the lesson beyond the building, that will be the second relocation to a remodeled building, is that it isn't always the newness of the building, but the community and businesses that support it. Not being able to make the NBA work here for the Sonics has everything to do with the NBA's business model of growing beyond its habitat and always expecting the place to be more plentiful.
If there is a bubble economy, it is the NBA, and doing anything for them beyond a remodel is foolishness. So, unless you have a much bigger reason to build a new and bigger building, don't build one.

I rank the possible related team by who is most likely to come here after 2010:
Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Hornets, Charlotte Bobcats, and Milwaukee Bucks have been walking the tightrope for as long as I can remember, I think they stay. The Sacramento Kings are more likely to be the team to get to Las Vegas.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

USAToday.com : Seattle mayor still eyeing NBA's return

Reported by AP reporter Gregg Bell, Seattle mayor Greg Nickels stated that he has sent a proposal to Washington state lawmakers requesting funding for a renovation of Key Arena. The request should be part of the next legislative session in January.
"We'll be going to the Legislature in their next session" beginning in January, Nickels said Monday at a ceremony inside KeyArena to announce Seattle University will be using it when the school returns to Division I basketball this season for the first time since 1980.
Nickels said Seattle will ask for state authorization to divert 1 percent of the existing hotels tax in Seattle from the convention and visitors bureau to the city. He said the convention center no longer needs that revenue and the city should get it.
"Those funds (would be) available for an NBA franchise," he said.
They potentially could generate enough money to back $75 million in bonds - the missing piece in a $300 million arena renovation plan proposed by Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer. Ballmer's group would contribute $150 million, and another $75 million would be culled in city dollars from other sources.
In a statement immediately after the Sonics and Seattle settled their lease dispute in July, which allowed the team to move to Oklahoma City, NBA commissioner David Stern said the league would assist in helping Seattle acquire a new team if state lawmakers approve a KeyArena remodel before the end of 2009.
"We think the door is open there," Nickels said Monday. "We feel like there's a working relationship possible there."
. . .
Even though Seattle's latest plan asks for far less, legislative leaders aren't thrilled the NBA and now Seattle officials are trying to force a 2009 deadline upon them.

"It's not going to work, with these 147 individually elected members of the state Legislature, to threaten them and bully them," House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, said in July. "God love the fans, but we have a state to run. And I think the city of Seattle, they have to go out and make their case to the state."



The city, as I have been saying forever, has to educate and communicate with people like Kessler that are existing in a low information world.

The Seattle mayor feels "the door is open" to the league returning to what would be a remodeled KeyArena.

From the Seattle Times, in the story about Seattle U playing basketball games in key Arena:
"We're beginning that process of getting back to exciting basketball at KeyArena," Nickels said. "Seattle has been a great basketball town for a long time even before the Sonics. So we think this will keep that tradition alive, and we'll see what happens in the next couple of years."
Since agreeing to a $45 million settlement with the then-Sonics' owners, Nickels said the city hasn't had contact with the NBA about returning to Seattle. He also said there's been no significant progress toward a proposed $300 million KeyArena renovation.
"We've had some conversations with [state lawmakers], but obviously they're all focused on the elections that's two weeks from [Tuesday]," Nickels said. "We'll really be veering up between then and when the session begins in January.
"We're going to do everything we can to educate the legislators to the importance of this arena and the importance of having that dedicated revenue available should another NBA team become available."

Seattle University off on fast break
, Percy Allen, Seattle Times.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Monday, October 20, 2008

SeattlePI.com: Seattle U steps into void

As was mentioned here over the weekend, Seattle University is planning on playing games in Key Arena. The first game is January 1st, one game this season, with many games to come in following seasons. This is Seattle U's return to Division I baskerball, after being out of Division I for 29 years.
This may look like Seattle U is taking dates vacated by the dearly departed Seattle SuperSonics until you look around the country and see college basketball being played in a few of the same facilities as NBA teams. Madison Square Garden comes to mind.
I would like to see as much basketball as possible played in Key Arena: Sonics, Storm, Seattle U, high school city finals.
Read the AP story here; Seattlepi.com Seattle University

Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"KeyArena scrambles to fill dates left by Sonics", NWCN.com

Half of the dates left open by taking the buyout from Bennett have been filled. Businesses around the arena do not think shows like "Thomas the Tank Engine" will bring as much activity. Seattle University is expected to announce a basketball game in January to be played there, and possibly more.

The claim is that these individual events can bring in more money per event. The problem is that there are half as many, and nobody can say that these activities could not have been booked to take place between NBA basketball games. It isn't as if every date was filled except the dates occupied by NBA games. Prior years had seen 140 to 160 events. This next year might see 80 to 120. It is simply a smaller scale. The claim per event is the one bright spot as long as you do not look at the overall schedule of dark nights. Fewer people going to Key Arena will likely mean fewer people going to Seattle Center.

The majority of Sonics season ticketholders traveled in from outside the Seattle City limits. Fewer people will have fewer reasons to travel into Seattle and Key Arena.
That is the bottom line, on the city's bottom line.
http://www.nwcn.com/sports/stories/NW_101708SPB_keyarena_dates_KS.122135003.html


Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, October 17, 2008

Husky Stadium Proposal

Linked below is the 16 page proposal the University of Washington has published in support of their request for support from the state Task Force.
The question is: where is the City of Seattle's version of this?
Where is their publication that describes their plan?

community resource and public asset for everyone Husky Stadium

Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"UW regents approve cash for stadium renovation" KING5.com, News for Seattle, Washington

Today on KING tv's 5pm news broadcast reporter Chris Daniels said that the University of Washington has authorized spending $3,000,000.00 on preplanning for Husky Stadium's $300,000,000.00 rebuild.

Mr. Daniels did report, as I have made clear, that the university is looking to tap the existing hotel/motel car rental taxes that are currently paying off Safeco and Qwest construction costs, to cover half of the cost. This is not the same tax the City of Seattle is interested in, that being a hotel tax being used by the Washington State Trade and Convention Center.

Comparitively, Key Arena looks smaller, since the city is paying 1/4 of the cost, with the city and state getting their return on investment on user taxes collected at and around Sonics games. It isn't clear yet what the return on investment is back to the state is on Husky Stadium rebuild. UW Athletic Director, Mr. Woodward, went ahead and said the economy could use the jobs.
Hey, that's my line!
http://www.king5.com husky stadium
Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

"Still shooting at 73l" Knoxville News Sentinel

You should be so lucky.
Ken Mink, 73 years old, plays college basketball.
Print this out, roll it up, and wrap Nick Licata on the nose with it.

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/oct/04/still-shooting-at-73/


Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Crunch time in Seattle sports" Art Thiel

Thiel makes nessisary light of the fall of Aubrey McClendon. Then he
goes on to say that Key Arena and Huskie stadium face a tough economy
for requesting public money.

The Key Arena project has a payoff for all of the public money.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/thiel/383326_thiel15.html


Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

James Donaldson not as optimistic as Gary Payton about NBA team" Seattle Times Newspaper

Fair enough, Donaldson is not wanting to be part of an ownership
group, but to be a Seattle City Councilman in place of Nick Licata, or
Jan Drago, or Richard McGyver (sp).
I would rather have him on the council than the ownership group.

On his second point, the NBA not returning for 5-10 years is pretty
far out. The only thing keeping a team from relocating to Seattle on,
or shortly after, 2011 is renovating Key Arena.

It is tough to see California getting a new arena deal approved for
the Kings next year. David Stern was pleased to announce a group
including the NBA was working on a solution, he also said they would
work on it for one year.

The Griz are bleeding money, 5-7 million a year no matter what the do.

The Hornets have had its population evacuate a couple months ago to
avoid another natural disaster, couple that with this economy, and it
will be tough for them to hit the ticket sales the owner, Greorge
Shinn, has set.

The Charlotte Bobcats are a money loser, but the lease is going to be
tough to get out of.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/sonics/2008263307_soni14.html


Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, October 13, 2008

On The Media: Transcript of "The Calculated Risk of Blogging" (October 3, 2008)

Why I am paranoid when depending on the compitence of others: The
Calculated Risk of Blogging.



BOB GARFIELD: Last week, the blog search engine Technorati released its annual State of the Blogosphere. The conclusion? The state of the blogosphere is strong. In fact, almost half of the 133 million blogs that have been created since 2002 were created in the past year and a half.

But something else was created in direct proportion — potential liability for libel, copyright infringement, defamation or invasion of privacy. The Media Bloggers Association tracks the rising number of lawsuits against bloggers, and MBA founder Robert Cox says that even frivolous litigation costs money to defend, and legitimate claims have no limit.

The mere threat of a lawsuit, he says, is sometimes enough to scare writers out of the blogosphere altogether.
. . .
BOB GARFIELD: All right, one last thing, Bob. There’s a legal principle known as deep pockets. Lawsuits tend to get filed in direct [LAUGHS] relationship to defendant’s ability to pay an eventual judgment.

By insuring bloggers, aren't you deepening their pockets and actually creating a market for litigation that didn't hitherto exist?

ROBERT COX: Bloggers do have assets already. They have future income streams, they have homes, they have cars. And if they lose a judgment and they don't pay the sheriff will be knocking at their door and it won't matter whether they have insurance or not.
http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2008/10/03/06


I spend more time than I should explicitly covering my journalistic ass in the few places I blog outside of here, not because of what I might write. Word to the wise, CYA.


Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Gary Payton Raises the Flag

Before the Seattle Seahawks football game yesterday Gary Payton was given the honor of raising a cerimonial "12th man" flag by the Paul Allen owned NFL team.

Paul Allen was one of two NBA owners to vote no one the Sonics franchise relocation to Oklahoma City. He also has ownership of the Portland Trail Blazers. He also has the Experience Music Project rock-roll / sci-fi museum situated next to the Seattle Center. He also has a major land development nearby in the South Lake Union neighborhood. He also has something to do with the company Steve Ballmer is CEO of, Microsoft.

Steve Ballmer is is the major money player in the Seattle Center Investment group that, not obvious in its name, is offering to be the private portion of a public/private partnership to rebuild Key Arena and buy an NBA franchise to occupy it. They tilt toward reviving Seattle Center (so do I).

Back to the future, yesterday, and Gary Payton.

Payton was quoted as saying (see 2 prior posts) that he thinks the NBA will return to Seattle by 2011. He is contacting other former players to put a group together to approach the local financial interests to get a Key Arena solution done. He identified one name, James
Donaldson. Donaldson is interested in running for Seattle City Council next year. He was the first NBA player I had bumped into in public, the summer he was drafted, before his rookie season, my brother and I ran into Mr Donaldson at . . . the Seattle Center between the Center House and the ferris wheel. He was there with his sister, from WSU, I was 15, he was really stood out above everybody else.

No, really, back to Gary Payton.

Some people make news, some people are news, Gary Payton is both. What this whole situation needs is a champion for the cause, an NBA Hall of Famer, and a direct connection to Seattle and the fans. I like Lenny Wilkins, but I love the Glove, it is generational. Payton is one
of the few in this world that could revive NBA interest in Seattle by 2011. He is still a superstar in Seattle. His interest is in the return of basketball to Key Arena. This should fit in with Ballmer's group. Maybe they can play on the same ownership team since they are looking at the same could. Maybe Gary can play public point man for this home as part of the ownership team.

Payton was critical of the former ownership group, lead by Howard Schultz, before Schultz sold and sued Clay Bennett. Are his critical remarks now a plus for him in the eyes of David Stern?
I doubt it matters now.

In the end the odds of Durant being a Seattle Sonic again just went wayyyyy up.
This is goodness.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Payton believes team will return to Seattle" AP

Here is the AP story, Payton hopeful to get a team in Seattle by 2011.


SEATTLE -- Within three years, former Seattle SuperSonics guard Gary Payton believes the NBA will be returning to the city where he became a star.

Payton raised the "12th Man" flag at Qwest Field on Sunday before the NFL game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. Payton said there has been talk among former players to revive a campaign to renovate Key Arena and to land a new team in Seattle.

"I think before 2011 a team will be here," Payton said. "A lot of things and speculation ... a lot of teams that want to move, so I think Seattle's got a good shot at it."http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/6420ap_bkn_nba_seattle.html



Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

"Gary Payton trying to get NBA team in Seattle" Seattle Times Newspaper

This is great, a competing group to the Ballmer group, competing to be the one to own the team in this market.
Matt Griffin has said in the past that his group, Seattle Center Investors (SCI), is as their name implies. They do not want a dead Key Arena, that hurts the Seattle Center, in turn hurts Seattle.

GP's comments center around getting a franchise back here by 2011.

Let's get together and it will be alright.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/sports/2008259022_webpayton12.html


Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Shades of 1929 for Chesapeake’s Aubrey McClendon | Muckety.com - See the news

Muckety has a nice interactive map, McClendon in the center, like a
black hole.

http://news.muckety.com/2008/10/11/shades-of-1929-for-chesapeake%E2%80%99s-aubrey-mcclendon/5741


Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

"Judge limits fans' suit against ex-Sonics" Seattle PI

In limiting the case the PBC may be exchanging that for having to sell
season tickets for the 2009-2010 season to the Seattle season ticket
holders that were cheated by Bennett's fraudulent marketing at the
same price as they paid in Seattle for the 2007-2008 season. This
might only effect the people identified as having purchase that
Seattle ticket package. Maybe more.

So, a thousand people, or more, in Seattle may get to buy Thunder
tickets at a much lower price than they are currently sold at.
They could turn around and resell them for profit, or attend games.
More likely PBC will pay the difference.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/basketball/382890_sonx11.html


Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Kevin Pelton lives! SonicsCentral.com - Sonics basketball will return! » Blog Archive » Hello Again

I am happy that Kevin Pelton found a way to keep going with the Seattle Storm.

Still, reading it gave me the blues, not sad, but the blues, knocked down, feeling old, and been done wrong, a bad western.

I am happy for Kevin, 6 years ago he caught the break, whirled in the blender of other people's blunder, and stands on his feet at the end. Tornados rip up houses and leave a few things in tact, as if. . .
Lucky him.

There wasn't anything natural about this disaster though. 5 or 6 years ago several of us "regulars" were unhappy with the reformat of the ESPN message boards, and the level of conversation, and maybe there was a lack of a sense of place. So, we escaped, 10 or 15 of us,
then 25 and more, and recruted people on other boards, alt.sonics, etc, and formed a group. Along that way a few of us put up web pages for fun and sport, when Kevin escaped to the bigtime, he left Sonicscentral site (not the stat portion where the grownups perfected
analysis).
The runaways from the other message boards churned out ideas of making a site, or taking over another one. Brian Robinson picked up Sonicscentral and a few if us agreed to write, the "Magnificent Seven". Really, Big Chris and Xteve really carried the mail pre and post game.
Media consumers keep coming back if they know there will be something new there on a regular basis. They, and Brian, did a great job.
They did.

Well, no point in waiting for FEMA.

I am inviting everybody that can, to get on with your lives. Enjoy the game again. I am going to try, maybe not today, but when the season starts, I am going to try.
I will keep this little blog going until there is no reason for it. I'll see if I can be the bigger person, bigger than Stern and Bennett. In the long run, they will be just as dead as everybody else. Life is too short for bitterness.
Let's go.

http://sonicscentral.com/blog/?p=2119

Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

"Maybe Sonics leaving town isn’t so bad" John McGrath, TheNewsTribune.com

Short sighted, baseball sufferer, and bitter basketball observer, John McGrath says that "Maybe the Sonics Leaving Town" is not such a bad thing. I agree that the franchise owner is horrible, but franchise owners come and go, less often than GM's and coaches, and players, and sports reporters, but they do change. But, a franchise should outlast all that, it is part of my cultural life, it should outlive me. I am hopeful that the State of Washington, the City of Seattle, Steve Ballmer, and you can right the wrong. While there are activities at the state level going on we have John McGrath writing shit like this.

John McGrath, you are no help.

http://www.thenewstribune.com/sports/story/499904.html


Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

In "Other News"





OT (off topic)...
Today U.S News & World Report has reported a major discovery: The
Obesity Gene Linked is to Colon Cancer and Other News.
The big question is: what "Other News" is the Obesity Gene linked to?

Hey, maybe the other news is the Seattle 2009-2010 Proposed City Budget process has started.

Mayor Greg Nickels has added to the CIP (Cap Improvement) in his proposed budget a line item in the CULTURE AND RECREATION section, sub-section Seattle Center in the Narrative on page #2 "In addition, funding is added in 2009 and 2010 for general building improvements at KeyArena."

Seattle Center Project Detail
PDF page 9 of 26 (181 of the budget) has the following item: KeyArena Improvements & Repairs
This ongoing project provides for major maintenance and improvements to KeyArena. Improvements may include, but
are not limited to, lighting upgrades, replacement of the basketball floor and other event components, creation of special
seating sections and partial house configurations to increase revenue, technology upgrades, and funding of concept plans
for future facility upgrades. These improvements both maintain basic building operations and facility integrity and
enhance KeyArena’s position in the highly competitive sports and entertainment marketplace.





As always "*This detail is for information only. Funds are appropriated in the budget at the Budget Control Level. Amounts in thousands of dollars."

As noted on the Seattle City Council web page, public comment is encouraged.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Storm offseason unsettled

"The Storm belongs in Key Arena, and I think everybody knows that."

They are not the only ones, and I think everyone will come to
understand that over the next 9 months.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/wnba/380715_storm26.html


Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My reader response to the PI Editorial was posted in the Virtual Editorial Blog

I was a little tired last night when I pecked out my response to the PI Editorial yesterday on the Sonics settlement money, and it shows. I made a few word choice errors in typing on my iPhone.
Anyway, glad the PI is taking my side, and re-sharing my response to them on today's VEB. Losing the additional 30 million dollars and allowing Key Arena to turn into a long-term white elephant is just not ok.
http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/veb/archives/149496.asp


Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Seattle Center: Silver-lined arena" Seattle PI Editorial

The Seattle PI has voiced its opinion on what should happen to the
settlement money, 45 million dollars from Clay Bennett: pay off the
arena debt. Then they pretty much accepted the city accountant's
suggestions.
I do not agree with replacing "lost" revenue from the city allowing
the Sonics franchise owners to leave two years early. They accepted
that future by accepting the settlement.
The money should pay off the debt, yes, but it should also go to
upgrades needed to attract non-sports activity currently going up to
the Everett Events Center, or down to the Tacoma Dome.

The Seattle PI editorial also lent strong words in support of getting
the state legislature to act on authorizing a funding source for the
state's portion of a Key Arena remodel to be spent if Steve Ballmer is
able to buy another NBA team.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/380253_arenaed.html


Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Dispatches from the Tenth Circle - The Sonic's Fan Version



There are parts of the saga of the Sonics' fan that sometimes remind me of something I might have read in The Onion's book, Dispatches from the Tenth Circle. It appeared, at first, that the only people interested in keeping the Sonics in Seattle were the fans, and in the end that is exactly the case.

It has been my contention for the past few years that there are three parties involved, the NBA not being one of them. David Stern acts on behalf of the owner, or potential owner if you are Steve Ballmer or Clay Bennett. So, we really do have the owner of the franchise, the politicos/NGO's (westside Democrats & eastside Repubicans), and absolutely lastly, the fans. All three of those perspectives are required for any major profession sports team to exist in Seattle. This may be the case in other cities, only the names are changed to protect the rich, and deflect criticism away from politicians.

From the word Go, the city has planned on the Sonics leaving, and the owners (any of them) were going to get more revenue no matter where the team was eventually located. When Howard Schultz was owner of the Sonics, and Brian Robinson was acting the part of journalist, he made every effort to help efforts to keep the franchise going long-term in Seattle. That effort didn't change when Clay Bennett purchased the Sonics (though not with the same sense that the owner was holding up his end of the stick.
When Clay Bennett announced that he was giving up and was going to move the team that put the city and Bennett on a collision course, and flipped Brian Robinson from journalist to advocate, and started Save Our Sonics with Steve Pyeatt.

At about that point season ticket holders, that were sold tickets under the pretense that they could purchase season tickets in 2008 and 2009, started to wonder if they had any recourse. They were sold something with the possibility of a benefit in the future while at the same time the team owner was actively trying the make sure those conditions would not be possible. Had they known at the time of purchase that Clay Bennett was begging the league to relocate in time for that same 2007 - 2008 season would those people have purchased their tickets?
In a few cases yes, in many cases no, in either case the consumers in Washington State have the right to know.
Asking Brian Robinson if he knows a lawyer they could hire isn't much of a conspiracy.

And yet, Clay Bennett's lawyer, Sideshow Bob Keller has demanded every email he has that also include the city and more. This does not have much to do with fraud, I honestly think this has everything to do with the fans, including Brian Robinson, costing Bennett at least 20 million dollars, and possibly 30 million more in 5 years.

All the while, quite a few of us Sonics fans have carried on conversations on message boards, newsgroups, listserves, some stretching back nearly 10 years. At various times groups I have had some contact with, public and private, sorted themselves out. A few of us took to writing about the Sonics on a few blogs, and there was an inside/outside the "circle" mostly expessed in a humorist way. As Brian gained connections with reporters, and people working in government and the last two ownership groups, and publicly lamented that they were not always open with him, my guess is that fodder will result in a lot of meaningless paper dumped in Keller's lap.

For me, a paranoid guy that just wanted to write, I opted out of anything that could be described, even jokingly, as an inner circle, and made a few people very unhappy with me. Well, the choices we make are not always clear to the others around us at the time. There wasn't much upside, and the downside looked something a bit worse than what Brian is dealing with right now.
Rich guys have lawyers that have nothing better to do, and they have to bill hours.
No thanks.
As for the idea of circles, what the center of some circles look like are not as positive for the Seattle community as Brian Robinson.

Sometime in the late 20th century the rings of Hell were redefined, and expanded after a new 10th Circle, Corpadverticus, was discovered (see chart, above).
There, near the lower right of the graph, is a red characiture that may or may not be Brad Keller, also known as "Sideshow" Brad by me.

And so, in today's Seattle PI, the venn diagram of all these circles, owners, politicos, and fans, has shown a new color of light: green for the fans.
The fans are not going to run for re-election, they do not have stock holders, and they are not inventing a new scenario (Washington State has a fraud law).
Keller is racking up billing hours on Brian Robinson's back before the music stops, the ride is over, and Bennett pulls the plug.

Save Our Sonics cites subpoena 'attack'
Team owners try to link group with ticket holders' suit

By GREG JOHNS
P-I REPORTER

The Sonics may be gone, but the court fight hasn't quite ended between Clay Bennett's ownership group and some Seattle sports fans.

A class-action suit filed by three former Sonics season ticket holders has escalated into a growing war of words and court filings, the latest surrounding Save Our Sonics co-founder Brian Robinson and what he must turn over to the Professional Basketball Club attorneys in discovery for a scheduled March 2 trial.

PBC lawyers served a subpoena on Robinson and the Save Our Sonics organization on Aug. 25 seeking e-mails and records regarding the group's interaction with city of Seattle officials, NBA representatives, the fans filing the class-action suit and numerous other matters.

Robinson's attorney, Paul Schneiderman, sought to limit the scope of the initial inquiry and the PBC responded by filing a motion to force compliance with the legal action.

Robinson now is agreeing to turn over some of what has been requested, but on a delayed basis.

The battle took a step up in volume Monday when Schneiderman filed a sharply worded response to U.S. District Judge Richard Jones accusing the PBC of launching an unnecessary attack on the Save Our Sonics group for its alleged role in bringing about the class-action suit against Bennett.

"The PBC, a combined billionaire group of Oklahoma-based NBA owners, have shockingly taken the unprecedented steps of attacking an all-volunteer NBA fan group in United States federal court," Schneiderman wrote.

The motion states that Bennett's attorneys are painting Robinson and his fan group as part of a "broader conspiracy" intended to bleed the PBC.

"The 'bleeding' allegations are Oliver Stone-like, conspiratorial in nature, and grossly distort and mischaracterize the actual efforts of Brian Robinson and SOS&S," the motion stated.

SOS&S refers to Save Our Sonics and Storm, the original name of the nonprofit corporation formed by Robinson in July 2006.

Part of Schneiderman's argument against the PBC's motion to compel the subpoena is based on the fact the PBC originally subpoenaed the Save Our Sonics group, but didn't subpoena the actual SOS&S affiliation.

PBC attorney Brad Keller said Robinson's attorney physically filed the original complaint against Bennett's ownership group.

"Robinson clearly played a role in orchestrating the lawsuit," Keller said. "We are just trying to get to the bottom of what his role was. Robinson shouldn't be resisting the subpoena if he has nothing to hide."

The entire case revolves around the three fans' attempts to hold Bennett's ownership group to what they perceived as a promise to give Sonics season ticket holders a three-year price guarantee and priority seating through the remainder of the former KeyArena lease.

Now that Bennett has moved the club to Oklahoma City, the suit seeks to force the PBC to guarantee the 1,387 Sonics season ticket holders from last year the right to buy similar seats at the Ford Center and also require the PBC to pay for travel accommodations that would now be necessary to attend the 41 home games in Oklahoma for the next two seasons.

PBC lawyers filed a motion last week asking the judge for summary judgment on the contract damages portion of the suit.

The PBC is attempting to show Robinson played a role in bringing about the fans' suit and thus they have a right to discovery concerning his group's actions.

In a declaration accompanying Monday's motion, Robinson acknowledged that he "referred several people to an attorney" in regards to a class-action fans suit, but denied any active role.

"The plaintiffs in the class action case have clearly made a decision to participate in this case without the active participation of SOS&S," Robinson wrote.

Robinson's attorney said the Oklahoma City owners are attempting to create a rift by doing everything possible to "alienate and inflict injury" on Seattle's NBA fan base in hopes of derailing the Save Our Sonics efforts to lobby the Washington Legislature for further KeyArena funding.

If the Legislature doesn't approve a $75 million tax stream to help rebuild KeyArena by Dec. 31, 2009, Bennett won't have to pay the city the final $30 million of the settlement package.

Robinson said that although the franchise has moved to Oklahoma, his goal is to "re-establish Seattle" as an NBA city and he intends to continue working toward a KeyArena funding solution.
As reported by Greg Johns of the Seattle PI.


My fuzzy memory is that the idea was floated on SonicsCentral.com, (you could put 100 other people in the "conspiracy" to not get screwed) those season ticket holders, I call fans, asked Brian if he knew a lawyer, and it looks like they found one.