The Politics of Sports

Alexander Hassenstein

The politics of sports are very important. The election is November 5th. Regardless of whom you intend to support, please take time to fill out your ballot and vote!

We are nearing the end of our first election cycle under the MOU agreed to by Chris Hansen, the City of Seattle, and the King County Council. The Seattle Mayoral race has been widely publicized, but for those of us that reside outside the Seattle city limits, the candidates running for office are more obscure.

If you read my story last week advocating "hockey first", you know that the clock is ticking on the MOU. We are 1 year into a 5 year commitment, and suddenly we have candidates now posturing about re-evaluating the MOU. While the MOU is probably safe, we don’t truly know how any of the new candidates will view the work of their predecessors. The King County Council has two contested races for seats on the Council. I recently reached out to the candidates running for Districts 5 and 9. Unfortunately, neither of the candidates in District 9, Reagan Dunn and Shari Song, responded for requests for information. You will remember that Reagan Dunn originally voted "No" for the MOU because he was very concerned about the Port of Seattle and their interests. While Shari Song has not responded directly to my request for information, she is endorsed by the King County Building Trades Council. She understands the need to put tradesmen back to work.

The construction of an arena is not simply about hockey and basketball. An arena means years of work for framers, electricians, plumbers, painters, surveyors, and all tradesmen. My friends can once again earn a living for their families. The Port of Seattle jobs ARE NOT more important than the jobs of anyone else! Even though neither of the candidates responded in District 9, both of the candidates, Dave Upthegrove and Andy Massagli, in District 5 went out of their way to get in touch with me. Dave Upthegrove, a long time WA State Representative, also works year round as a basketball referee. He understands the value of sports and athletics, and how they can make a difference in the lives of young people. He feels that sports play an important part in our entertainment culture, can inspire young people to engage, and results in better academic performance and personal development. Upthegrove goes on to say that he does not intend to undo the work that has been done to implement the MOU. He says that he isn’t familiar with the "hockey first" discussion, but is generally supportive of professional hockey coming to the region. I would certainly like to have more specifics on how Mr. Upthegrove would support our efforts to bring hockey to Seattle, but based upon his responses, it appears that he won’t stand in our way.

This past week, I had the opportunity to join Andy Massagli for a lunch. He's a Kent resident and small business owner and I wanted to hear what he had to say. Andy was very personable and generous with his time. He is a hockey fan, a Thunderbirds fan, and supports bringing the NHL to Seattle. We had a very lively discussion about the Port of Seattle and what an arena placed in SODO would mean. He was very sympathetic to the plight of the construction trades over the last several years and what the downturn in the economy has done to families that rely on projects like the arena to survive. Andy firmly believes that there is a way to balance the concerns of the Port of Seattle and still have a first class arena in SODO that would house both hockey and basketball. Andy went on to question me about the hockey community, the possibility of the NHL coming to Seattle, and what he could do to support us in our efforts. I told him the first thing he could do for us was to make sure that the hard work to secure the MOU was not undone. The second thing was to support efforts to amend the MOU to allow "hockey first" if that became necessary. Andy whole-heartedly offered to support our efforts.

I don’t often ask people to support my politics, but the politics of sports are very important to me. We have all worked very hard to support Chris Hansen’s efforts to pass the MOU. I am asking you all to continue to support those efforts by protecting the MOU with your vote. Based upon Reagan Dunn’s lack of support, I believe that Shari Song is the only choice in District 9. It’s much harder for me to decide in District 5. Dave Upthegrove is a seasoned politician and understands how to walk a fine line with offending people, but as a coach I always harbor hard feelings towards referees. Andy Massagli was very genuine with me and let’s face it, he IS a hockey fan! While I think either of them would do a fine job, I’m going with the guy that prefers ice to the hard wood. I am supporting Andy Massagli. The election is November 5th. Regardless of whom you intend to support, please take time to fill out your ballot and vote!

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