The voters have spoken, or maybe, shouted, on the use of city funds in Seattle sports arenas. The 74 percent "yes" vote on Initiative 91...
The voters have spoken, or maybe, shouted, on the use of city funds in Seattle sports arenas.
The 74 percent “yes” vote on Initiative 91 means there will be no renovation of KeyArena at Seattle Center for basketball. It may mean the Sonics are out of the city and region altogether. Wrath is one thing, good public policy is another. This initiative, no matter how hearty its public support, is lousy policy because it constrains the city too much. The relatively good news is this measure is not expected to have an immediate impact on Safeco and Qwest fields, which are county- and state-owned and financed.
The most important impact is a public-relations one. Seattle voters are in no mood to finance a Sonics arena or any other improvements. If Seattle voters are this grouchy, voters in suburban King County probably don’t feel that much different.
It’s always difficult to be the third, or fourth — depending on how you count — sports team seeking a publicly subsidized renovation. That helps explain why the Seattle ownership group, led by Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz, sold out to a group led by Oklahoma businessman Clay Bennett.
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There is life after the Sonics at KeyArena. One promising idea would remove the upper side walls of the arena and turn it into an indoor-outdoor concert venue and wintertime ice-skating arena.
The only possible place for a Sonics venue in Seattle is at Memorial Stadium. By the rules of the initiative, it would have to be owned by an entity other than the city.
More likely, I-91 moves the Sonics to Renton or Bellevue or somewhere else — possibly all the way to Oklahoma City, where Bennett is already a local hero. Bringing this team home would put additional feathers in his crown.