If you’re familiar with / have been heckled by sonicscentral posters on their not-so-welcoming website then you’ve encountered some pretty strong devotion to anything to bring an NBA team to Seattle, nomatter what the cost. This has been their opinion for a while. Once upon a time the message was to rebuild the KeyArena because it was the solution the public could accept. I caught this quote and felt it worth sharing:
Friday, July 4, 2008 Step#1: NBA quality arena
Another lesson for me in this is that my opinion means very little. David Stern’s opinion means just as much. He and I are dependent on the opinion of the people that decide all this: the franchise owners. Steve Ballmer says a rebuilt Key Arena will work for him and will provide enough revenue for the league. He can buy a team for this market and Stern will support his efforts.
At this point I don’t care if Steve Ballmer fills it with ice dancing 41 nights a year, I am looking for doubling my available dollars for rebuilding Key Arena.
reprinted at SonicsCentral.com Posted by Mr. Baker
We also heard Brian Robinson’s unwavering support for the Seattle Center location and Key rebuild in 2007:
Robinson said city and NBA officials have reached a consensus that Seattle Center is the right location for the teams, fitting primary owner Clay Bennett’s wishes for a “world-class” facility. The $500 million price tag for a new arena and a plan for how it will be built remains a question, however. And Bennett isn’t cooperating, continuing to insist that KeyArena is not a viable option.
But if the plan is now to bring an NBA team back at a non-Seattle Center location they’re for it too. The Seattle Center/KeyArena can’t work now. What a change four years can make.
Robinson’s Involvement in Public Acceptance of Clay’s Sonics Acquisition
In the wayback machine we have glimpses of how previous campaigns were organized from Save Our Sonics / SonicsCentral. I must be late to the party. Did you all remember Brian Robinson’s involvement with being an unpaid spokesman/PR person for Bennett’s “stay in Seattle” plan ? Some parties involved in the Bennett/Schultz debacle thought it wasn’t so unpaid and put a subpoena in Brian’s hand to get to the bottom of it.
Sources close to the situation believe if Seattle is awarded a new NBA franchise at some point in the future, Brian may be heavily involved, possibly as a minority owner.
Now I’m getting it. Mr. Robinson’s quest is like Don Quixote being against any ownership changes in the NBA, until it puts a team in Seattle. Maybe he’s just the devoted fan that ownership groups like to trot out for the public to support. I think I’ve heard of that “find local interest groups so it doesn’t look like billionaires asking for public money” strategy before (from Eckstein and Delaney). Disguising the public handout via a 30 year tax re-payment strategy and corresponding shortfalls in tax-supported city services is just another layer in that shield. Owners need to be crafty in how they approach the handout, and they can trick even their own spokespeople.
Some Sonics’ supporters who were initially suspicious of Bennett now believe he is serious [about building a new arena in Seattle] — and is approaching the arena fight with more savvy than Schultz did.
“When we first started this we thought our role was going to be watchdogging and potentially adversarial with the organization,” said Brian Robinson, director of the nonprofit group Save Our Sonics and Storm. But after observing the new owners’ actions, Robinson said, “I have been convinced of their sincerity at almost every level.”
Or, as Mr. Baker once wrote:
Mr. Robinson’s relationships with both the Schultz and Bennett [and Hansen] ownership groups may be a double-edged sword.