What happened when Seattle rejected a new arena


I have long railed at how professional sports teams essentially blackmail cities, using the threat of moving teams to another city, into using taxpayer money to build fancy new stadiums while the wealthy team owners benefit from the profits.

In Seattle, the city council rejected by a 5-4 vote a proposal to subsidize a new entertainment and sports complex that the developer hoped would attract a basketball or hockey team to the city. The city used to have an NBA team known as the Seattle SuperSonics but they moved to Oklahoma City in 2008.

So far, so good. The catch was that the five ‘no’ votes were by the women on the council while the four men voted in favor. This resulted in the women being at the receiving end of a barrage of vile, sexist comments and threats.

Many attacked the councilwomen on social media and through emails, often with profanity-laced or sexually graphic insults. Most said the female officials didn’t back the plan because women don’t like sports, with one saying they would have approved the sale if it was for a needlepoint museum.

Samantha Bee introduces us to the five women on the council.

Comments

  1. says

    using the threat of moving teams to another city, into using taxpayer money to build fancy new stadiums while the wealthy team owners benefit from the profits.

    They also do it to manipulate real estate. So it’s not a simple scam – they take profit at lots of levels and are able to cut their friends in for a slice of the action, if those friends help make the deal work. Take, for example, George W Bush’s maneuvers around buying the Texas Rangers and building them stadiums, etc.

    Read this if you want to heave your lunch up a bit:
    https://www.publicintegrity.org/2000/01/18/3313/how-george-w-bush-scored-big-texas-rangers
    $200mm in public subsidies plus Bush and his cronies bought up the land around where they knew the stadium was going to be. It’s a trick straight out of some western movie where the douchey villain buys the farmland he knows the railroad is going to have to pay to come through. Bush personally pocketed a measly $14m on his investment, which was less than $1m. Turns out he was as good a real estate speculator as Hillary Clinton was a commodities trader. It helps when you rig the game first.

  2. says

    What I’m trying to say is: read between the lines. If people are upset that the Seattle deal didn’t go down it’s because they had bought up the land and were expecting a big cash-out. Instead, they’re stuck with property they probably paid slightly above market for. In other words, they screwed themselves.

  3. says

    If anyone needs an argument for not spending taxpayer money on teams, here’s one. No doubt the five councilors are aware of it:

    Maine hockey team to leave town 2 years after $34 million in tax-funded arena renovations

    The Portland Pirates, Maine’s minor league hockey team, plan to move to Springfield, Massachusetts this fall in a reshuffling of the region’s pro hockey offerings.

    When they do, the American Hockey League team will abandon an arena that recently underwent $34 million in taxpayer-funded renovations, with little penalty for breaking its lease.

    US$34m to upgrade an already-existing arena is a pittance compared to the cost of building new NFL or MLB stadiums, or an NHL/NBA capable arena. Just because you build it in a major city doesn’t mean they will come, especially when some league commissioners (NFL, NHL) talk nonsense about moving to Las Vegas. The leagues have enough money already, let them pay for it and loan new owners the money to build.

    .

  4. doublereed says

    It’s also disturbing that only the women were responsible council members.

  5. kyoseki says

    We’re still trying to figure this out;
    http://www.tcpalm.com/news/shaping-our-future/property-values/port-st-lucie-state-each-gets-3-million-in-digital-domain-settlement-textor-to-get-85-million–33988-380677361.html

    This guy basically conned Port St. Lucie & Florida into dumping $70+m into funding a visual effects satellite studio (that also had students pay to work on movies), which went bankrupt 9 months later. The state & city each got $3m from the resulting lawsuit, whilst Textor himself received the equivalent $8.5m… for costing state taxpayers a ton of money.

    Whether it’s film or sports, or any other glitzy industry, I blame gullible state & local legislators for all of this crap, they get sold a scam and are usually too starstruck to realize they’re wasting money. Massachusetts recently rejected a plan to scrap their film subsidies and use the money to boost the Earned Income Tax Credit for poor families, despite their own studies showing that they’re spending $120k a year to create a job that only pays 70-80k a year (and so only refunds a tiny portion of the tax money used to generate the job in the first place).

  6. says

    Whether it’s film or sports, or any other glitzy industry, I blame gullible state & local legislators for all of this crap, they get sold a scam and are usually too starstruck to realize they’re wasting money.

    If you think that’s bad – take a look at the navy.

  7. kyoseki says

    If you think that’s bad – take a look at the navy.

    Well, yes and no.

    Taxpayer money getting blown on unnecessary military hardware isn’t quite the same as taxpayer money used as bribes to simply convince a corporation to set up in a different state – unless states are doing this to lure naval bases, which wouldn’t surprise me.

    … it’s pretty goddamned close, though.

  8. Dunc says

    If people are upset that the Seattle deal didn’t go down it’s because they had bought up the land and were expecting a big cash-out.

    Given the volume of abuse these councilwomen have received, I doubt that it’s all from miffed property speculators. Some people are just dicks.

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