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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

No New Teams? No Problem.

It looks as though, at least for now, that Seattle will be without the NBA and the NHL for a bit longer. The Kings have allegedly figured out a way to stay in Sacramento by, among other things, giving up parking meter revenue for the next 50 years.

The Phoenix Coyotes have also apparently found a local buyer that wants to keep them in the area, even though they are floundering there and have been for some time. Last but not least, there are allegedly multiple buyers interested in buying the Hornets with designs on keeping them in New Orleans.

A couple of things to consider in these situations; first, no owner is going to come right out and say publicly that they want to move the franchise – something we learned from Clay Bennett who, with the help of David Stern, created the perfect blueprint for uprooting and removing of a franchise; say the right things publicly, but do the opposite privately. Stern will not publicly support or acknowledge the desire to move franchises. He will play them for all her can and then use the possible threat of relocation as the carrot on the stick to get what he wants.

Secondly, no smart exec is going to go public with their interest in selling or moving a local team to another market. That will only serve to piss off and alienate the local fan base and support will quickly erode. You can’t afford to do that if you want to maximize your current market’s resources. Do the Kings, Hornets or Coyotes really have interest in Seattle? Who knows. It appears not, but those that are really in the know aren’t going to go public with their intent while trying to close a deal close to home. Remember; Bennett pretended to go through the motions in Seattle, albeit clumsily. We all knew his intent was to move the team, so while commiserating about possible available franchises for the Seattle market – and even the reality of an arena deal – the real intentions will be known only by a very select few – not the general public.

So, in the meantime, sit back and let the chips fall where they may. Let Seattle’s opportunities arise organically. If cities like Sacramento want to keep a team by overpaying, leveraging their future, and over valuing the franchise – let them. That’s bad business. It certainly makes for feel-good headlines for Kevin Johnson in the short term. But the price will be paid for a long time after those feel good headlines are memories.

No teams? No problem. Wait for the right opportunity at the right price. This is not Seattle’s loss, it’s the NBA and the NHL’s loss. They need to earn their way into the marketplace, not be treated like they are a gift to the community. There are football, baseball and soccer to pin your hopes on.

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