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Why I Feel OK About the Arena Situation

This morning, a Seattle Times columnist used the occasion of Aubrey McClendon blowing the cover of the Sonics' new owners to ask David Stern why the Seattle situation isn't getting the personal attention Sacramento is.

At FanHouse, I discussed the differences. Rereading, I sound a bit cheery about our prospects here. I'm not. I do feel confident Stern will get something done locally, though. Why?

  • Stern loves the Sacramento fan base. Not to cast aspersions on Seattle -- which is a great, valuable NBA city -- but there's nothing like Sacramento. How does a losing team sell out 12 straight seasons the way the Kings did? Despite bad rosters, bad ownership, bad management... we as fans never gave up. How many cities would have shown up? Few, I think. Stern has been in power since before Sacramento got a team, he's seen it all. This is conjecture, but I think he would feel personally hurt if the Kings were taken away from Sacramento.
  • Stern loves the Maloofs. They have all the passion, interest, and $$$ of Mark Cuban without the halfcocked tongue and conspiratorial remarks. They are, for the league's purposes, almost perfect -- willing to put money into the team, intricately connected to Hollywood and the entertainment business, showmen of the first tier. Their fault? They won't fund an arena themselves. If they had a newer arena, they'd be perfect. (Not perfect for us; perfect in Stern's eyes. He doesn't care if they get unnecessarily involved in trade talks or contract negotiations. We, members [or in some cases recovering members] of the Church of Petrie, do care.)
  • This relocation business is getting slippery. OF COURSE Stern would like to save Seattle. Of course he wants to make Memphis work, and he'd like New Orleans to survive. But he's a realist, and he knows restless owners (especially Michael Heisley and George Shinn) want some sign Stern will turn into Gary Bettman and watch franchises pack up the vans in order to make more money. Coming up with something in Sacramento doesn't prevent Heisley from screaming bloody murder when not even Darko Milicic can sell out the building, but it does dampen the wails.
So yeah, I'm not cheery. I'm not even optimistic -- I'll pump my fist when I or my grandkids walk into a new arena. But I'm OK with where we are now. It's not nearly as dark as things are in Seattle.