History repeats itself in Milwaukee while history is made on the pitch by Team USA, in another edition of the Sports Dump.
Seattle still feels the agony. Like a recently amputated limb, the phantom pains come every fall and winter and linger to the summer. There’s no mistaking the absence. Even now, eight years after the last game was played at Key Arena, mention the Sonics to any Northwesterner and it will bring about feelings as cold and dark as the long Seattle winters.
In the shadiest of deals, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz sold the Sonics to an Oklahoma City ownership group led by Clay Bennett. Former NBA commissioner David Stern,a close friend of Bennett, was more than happy to facilitate the deal for his buddy.
We all know the story, the new ownership group promised not to take the team to the Panhandle, but after Seattle wouldn’t sign off on a publicly funded arena, the team had no choice but to pack up and move East.
In 2015, we have a new commissioner but the same old tactics are taking place, leaving one city as hostage to another possible move. Yesterday, in a hearing with state and local lawmakers, Milwaukee Bucks team president Peter Feign demanded $250 million plus interest in taxpayer money for a new arena, and said it needs to happen within weeks or the Bucks will be relocated to “Las Vegas or Seattle.”
When Herb Kohl sold the Bucks last year, one of the main selling points of the sale was that the new owners keep the franchise in Milwaukee. Sounds familiar. Once again an owner sold a team to an ownership group promising to keep the team in its current city, only to watch the new group threaten, and (more than likely) move to a more desirable city.
The fact that this ownership group is asking to go dutch with a city has always been one of the lowest and most gratuitous things done in professional sports. Time and time again, these billionaire owners threaten to leave town unless the city comes through and pays for an arena they won’t receive a profit from.
For many sports fans, there is a significant relationship tied to our sports teams. For many sports fans there is also a direct relationship between civic pride and those sports teams. “The Home Team” has helped families get through unemployment, men and women fight through divorce, and for the city of New York, the Yankees and Mets helped a group heal after 9/11. These shrewd businessmen know this and are using it to their advantage.
Imagine I’m a wildly successful restraunteur, and people love my food. In fact, it has been in the community so long that it is a part of the community. People have been engaged in my restaurant, people have been married in my restaurant, people have had babies in my restaurant. Now the restaurant has been around for 40 years, and obviously it needs to be updated. What would happen if I went to City Hall and said, hey I’m going to open this beautiful new restaurant and you guys have to split the bill with me, you won’t receive any of my profits, but think of all the jobs and memories that will happen here.
What would you think?
This Milwaukee ownership group is worth billions. Wes Edens’ reported net worth in 2014 was around $1.7 billion. As of today, Marc Lasry is worth $1.87 billion. James Dinan is worth $2.4 billion. That’s a almost $6 billion collectively. Forbes Valued the Bucks at $600 million.
Let that sink in.
Of course, the owners “want” to stay in Milwaukee, but they really don’t want to pay for their new arena themselves. So out comes the duct tape and the newspaper headline, along with the handheld camera. The blackmailers have outlined their demands; a take-it-or-leave it deal that would see the state, city, county cover half the costs of the $500 million arena, including $93 million in bonds that would accrue interest for 13 years before they would even start to be paid off.
“Who has a loan for 13 years and you don’t pay anything, but you let the interest run? Who does that? You wouldn’t let your kids do it,” State Sen. Lena Taylor said. “And you sure as heck wouldn’t do that to your constituents.”
The most conservative estimate pegs the interest costs at $174 million, on top of the initial $250 million outlay.
Not only is the ownership group of $5 billion dollars holding the city hostage, they’re trying to rob them at the same time.
Unfortunately, as long as their are thirsty cities looking to highlight their attractions by fielding an NBA team, there will always be owners, ski masks at the ready, just waiting for the next victim.
Just ask Seattle.
142.5 miles up the I-5 in Vancouver, the United States Women’s National Team conquered the World for its third Women’s World Cup title and its first since 1999.
The final match against Japan was a thing of beauty as the American started the match with their foot on the pedal scoring four goals in the first 16 minutes. The result would read 5-2, but the game was pretty much over by the time Carli Lloyd’s 50+ yard bomb reached the back of the net.
We can only hope the popularity of the women’s game will translate to the bigger goal of equal rights and equal pay.
Could not agree more! pic.twitter.com/tP9LT0IQGh
— Hope Solo (@hopesolo) July 7, 2015
FIFA can talk about the world dominance of the men’s game, but the rise of popularity in the women’s game should be reflected.
The USA’s match against Japan was the most watched soccer game in the American television history.
Martin Luther King, Jr once said, “we are not makers of history, we are made by history.” Hopefully, the next generation will be made by the history of this generation, including the 2015 US Women’s National Team.
Photo Credit: Associated Press/File