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Paul Nicholson
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Monday, August 13, 2007

on owners, franchises, and moving

Interesting article on ESPN.com this morning.

Basically the people that bought the Seattle Supersonics recently are talking about moving the team to Oklahoma City. The two things that make this particularly interesting to me are two statements the owners make:

  1. "But we didn't buy the team to keep it in Seattle; we hoped to come [to Oklahoma City]...We know it's a little more difficult financially here in Oklahoma City, but we think it's great for the community and if we could break even, we'd be thrilled."
  2. "[The city of Seattle have] got 60 days to make some decisions they haven't been willing to make in the past year, and if they make them in a way that satisfies Clay, then the team will stay there."
Statement #1
I find this one really interesting. It is based on the premise that they want to move the team to OKC knowing that it will not be profitable, knowing that it will 'fail' by many standards, but it is worth it for the city. This sounds a lot like the talk we've been hearing from the local Nashville group that wants to buy the Predators. The leader of the group has even come out and said he is not and was not a hockey fan, but wanted to buy the team because he knew how important they were to Nashville. I find it interesting how this concept is being used. Especially compared to the more normal franchise ownership talk - which brings us to #2.

Statement #2
Statement #2 contradicts statement #1, and gets to the real issue going on here. This is pretty clearly a traditional case of ownership threatening to move the team if they don't get a sweet new arena built for them. Statement #1, in this case, is just a smoke screen to give them an excuse of where they could move. To pressure the city to build a new arena, they have to have a plausible threat of moving. On its face, no one really takes the threat of moving to OKC seriously. It would be financial suicide. So they have come up with some reason for moving to OKC. "The good of the city" sounds good. Now...why wouldn't they keep the team in Seattle for the good of that city?

That is one thing i have appreciated through all this ownership hype. The Predators already have about the best arena deal a team can have. The arena is still relatively new, is just getting an upgraded scoreboard, etc. So the debate has actually, for once, been for the merits of the city, fans, and team at true face value. It isn't about getting a new arena built, it is about profitability, fan support, and the value of a franchise to a city.

And i like the way things are turning out so far :-)

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