Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fine NBA you can come back (and NHL you were always welcome), but I have one big condition

Now that it seems that Seattle will make a nice big push for the return of the NBA, I might as well put out under what conditions I will support the league coming back.

But, first, where I stand now. I'm fine with the NBA never coming back, ever.

What was exposed about the league after the Oklahoma City owners came in -- how massive arenas need to be and how the league will work in concert against a community -- tainted the entire organization for me. I like the sport, but I can watch the Huskies.

And, the NHL, well, I'd always liked the idea of the NHL in Seattle.

Anyway, that said, I would support a new Seattle Sonics if they followed in the spirit of the MLS Sounders and created a mechanism for fan involvement. The Alliance is no Supporters Trust, FC United of Manchester or Barcelona. But, it is also no Green Bay Packers, which get all the glory for being fan owned, but whose investors have no say at all in how the team is run, but do fork over cash to the ownership.

Secondly, I would support whoever ended up owning a the new NBA franchise if they sold stock in the team. Unlike the NFL, most of the other major leagues in North America allow for some sort of stock scheme, but NBA prevents any meaningful participation in the club by stockholders. So, while granted it would be no Bundesliga model towards real community and fan ownership.

Coupled with the first mechanism, fan stockholders (and a friendly team owner) in Seattle could lobby for a liberalization of stockholder involvement in professional team sports.

The facts for this piece mostly come from the very good article from the Northern Illinois Law School Review: "Considerations for Professional Sports Teams Contemplating Going Public."

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