Monday, November 19, 2007

Dave Zirin doesn't know what the hell he's talking about Re: Sonics

Zirin in the PI:
Municipalization means turning the Sonics into a public utility; call it a kind word for expropriation. Basketball fans should press the state of Washington to sue for the right to buy the team back from Clay and his cronies. They should claim that the Sonics and Storm are the intellectual property -- the eminent domain -- of the people of Seattle, and therefore the city has far more of a claim on the team than the Bennetts of Oklahoma.

The Sonics should get their new arena, but instead of the proceeds going to build another wing on Bennett Manor, the funds would go to rebuilding the city's health care and educational infrastructure.

Imagine seeing someone wearing a Kevin Durant jersey on the street and knowing that instead of draining the tax base of a city, it was paying for new textbooks in a public school classroom.

Does this seem far-fetched? Ask the city of Green Bay, where the beloved Packers are actually publicly owned. They are the only publicly owned team in the United States. It's time to add to that list.

This is bigger than the Sonics. This is about drawing a line against the subsidizing of stadiums by which public monies are delivered to private hands. No more Mr. Flannel-Shirted Nice Guy. The Sonics stay in Seattle. They belonged to the Emerald City long before they belonged to Clay Bennett.


1. The Green Bay Packers aren't the panacea that people always point to in these situations. They are a private company in a league with revenue sharing. They aren't, as Mr. Zirin writes, owned by the city of Green Bay. They are public in about the same sense that Microsoft is public, they both sell shares to anyone who wants to buy. They are a for profit company owned by 40,000 share holders (who can own as many as 200 shares).

Yes, they're a great example of fans having a hand in the team, but they are a far far cry from actual city owned teams like (until recently) the Harrisburg Senators.

2. Who is to say that the NBA would put up with that level of insolence? The NBA, and other leagues like it, aren't straight up businesses. The courts don't consider what they do "commerce" so they're able to take part in anti-competitive tactics, like simply taking Seattle's team away.

"Fine, don't like how we manage our league? We're leaving."

All of the above isn't to say that I hope the Sonics stay and that the NBA sucks. But, I'm thinking its more likely that the NBA is ripe for competition if they leave Seattle.

Who's to say another ABA won't show up?

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