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Local paper misleading again on arena deal

By Mike Salk

Thank goodness for The Seattle Times editorial board. How else would I know the perils that still loom in the fight to watch a local professional basketball and hockey team here in Seattle? Who else would be here to protect us from made up demons and fake goblins?

To wit: their latest editorial.

Ugh. Where to start? Oh, I know. Right here.

“Reports of the purchase of the Sacramento Kings by a vague consortium headed by Chris Hansen appear to be solid, for now.”

There is nothing vague about Chris Hansen’s group of investors. (AP)

A vague consortium. Vague consortium. How is it vague? The group is: Chris Hansen, Steve Ballmer, Peter Nordstrom and Erik Nordstrom. That’s it. It isn’t vague. It is simple. How is this confusing? Maybe they forgot which two Nordstroms were involved? There are a few of them around. I guess it’s more vague when they are referred to as “the Nordstroms” instead of by their first names. I’ll admit that I forgot their first names and had to do a quick Google search. Vague indeed.

The problem here is not that the writer is too lazy to do the homework on the cabal attempting to worsen our lives in Seattle. It’s that by coming up with a new insulting moniker for Hansen’s group, they leave an image akin to the villainous SPECTRE that set out to take over the world in early Bond flicks. Maybe they should put Ballmer in an evil eye patch. Or maybe Hansen sits in their secret meetings stroking his cat. Heck, they probably meet somewhere underground in a well fortified lair. How else to explain a vague consortium?

“Seattle City Council members Tim Burgess and Sally Clark committed to a thorough environmental impact analysis of the arena, including alternative sites. Deliver it.”

Unlike the allegations of vagary, this is at least based in fact. The city council did commit to an extensive Environmental Impact Study. It is in the process of being completed. There is, to my knowledge, no one fighting to stop the EIS from happening. If that opposition exists, it certainly isn’t mentioned in the editorial.

So why do the councilmembers need to be scolded into completing a task that is apparently on schedule? This would be like telling your child to clean his room, then bursting into the room while he was cleaning and screaming, “I said, CLEAN YOUR ROOM!” Thankfully, I wasn’t raised by the ed board! I’d have a complex!

And why is it so important that this EIS be completed?

Because “taxpayers need to be protected from the risks of a billion-dollar bet on the purchase of a basketball team and the construction of a third major sports complex.”

Ah yes. Taxpayers need to be protected from a billion-dollar bet. Only one problem here: for which billion dollars is the taxpayer on the hook? Did the board not write three paragraphs earlier that “the $490 million arena proposed for south of downtown faces lots of hurdles?”

Never mind that the government is taking virtually zero risk on the floated bonds that will be paid back. I want to know how the $490 million doubled in just three paragraphs? Surely, they can’t think the taxpayer is responsible for the $525 million being spent by the Vague Consortium on the purchase of the team. Unless they are worried that the government is secretly part of the consortium? That would truly be vague.

“The Sonics fled town because of the alleged inadequacies of KeyArena. Now it would be a temporary home for a new team.”

I like crafting arguments. I really do. It’s a fun challenge to look at a point of view and try to either support it or argue against it. But this is too easy. It’s not fun when the counter-argument is embedded in the point your opponent was trying to make!

This might have been more of a challenge if the board hadn’t included the word “temporary” right in the thesis.

Yes, KeyArena was (and is) inadequate for the NBA. It lacks the modern amenities that the NBA demands. It is not, in its current state, a long-term solution as an NBA home. But is it perfectly capable of temporarily housing the team while the new building is under construction? Of course it is. This point has never been argued by anyone ever. I am frankly shocked this needs to be explained.

“Who will protect the schedules of local teams and events planned for that space?”

Ah. The coup de grace. The biggest unanswered question that the board saw fit to ask was this. Always concerned about the big picture, the board is now concerned that the Vague Consortium is going to make life difficult on the poor, defenseless tenants of KeyArena. While I have nothing against the Seattle Storm nor the Rat City Rollergirls, every expert has testified that they are not enough to sustain KeyArena.

The building is a long-term money drain on the city. It makes no profit, is worth no money, and will ultimately need repairs that it does not generate the revenue to support. It is unsustainable. If the current tenants are forced to switch a date or two to accommodate the Big Bad Vague Consortium, they might just be willing to do so in order to receive upgrades to their home.

Thankfully, The Times is here to protect them. And really, all of us.