NBA & NHL Expansion: Mike Ozanian of Forbes on KJR

Are NBA & NHL expansion talks around the corner?

Mike Ozanian of Forbes discussed the real possibility of NBA and NHL expansion and the impact of Steve Ballmer's purchase of the Los Angeles Clippers on KJR.

Edited by Matt Tucker

As reaction (here and here) to Steve Ballmer’s purchase of the Los Angeles Clippers reverberates through the country, media and fans alike have been vocal about their opinions concerning the future of NBA basketball in Seattle.

Mike Ozanian, Executive Editor of Forbes magazine, joined Mitch Levy on KJR Wednesday to discuss a few notable and encouraging topics regarding said future. There is a ton of information to glean from the interview, and I’ll start in order of how things were discussed.

First things first, Ozanian was very clear about the difference between Ballmer’s purchase of the Clippers versus the potential of buying the Milwaukee Bucks and moving them. He noted that, "It was by far the richest valuation by any sports team." He also stated the motivation behind buying the Clippers was not necessarily for basketball reasons.

"Yes, he could have gotten the Bucks for less," Ozanian said, but that it’s less about the team and more about the market. Adding, "How often do these teams [in a major market] come up for sale with a controlling interest? Very, very infrequently." It leads to a broader sense that perhaps Ballmer’s move was less about wanting to just own a basketball team, and more about the benefits of owning a team in a large market. The Los Angeles market matters significantly to the Clippers brand.

The conversation then turned to a very interesting topic. Answering a question concerning what the price tag in L.A. means to the expansion cost of a team in the Seattle market, Ozanian laid out his insight:

  1. "Seattle is a great sports market, with so many sports that do well." (Yay!)
  2. "I think Seattle gets a NHL and a NBA team."
  3. "The expansion price would be at least twice the price of the [Charlotte] Bobcats."
  4. "That information won’t come out until after the NBA sees what the next national TV deal is going to be."
  5. "Whether its expansion or relocation, the fee will come out to about the same either way."
  6. "[Regarding NHL expansion] The NHL is looking at Quebec, Seattle, and possibly Houston."
  7. [Regarding the new TV deal and if the owners will want more money for another seat at the owners' table] "These TV deals usually have provision that the agreement can be adjusted when teams are added."
  8. "If the NBA expands, it will be likely be two teams."
  9. [Answering a question about how much the TV deal increases the market with Seattle, instead of just the 30 existing teams] "I can’t say the exact number, but in the past there have been provisions for increases. This was behind [NHL Commissioner] Gary Bettman’s push out west."
  10. "There would have to be a number there to have it make economic sense for the league (NBA) to do it."
  11. "How this national TV deal works out is going to have a lot to do with if and when the NBA expands."
  12. [Answering a question concerning when the national TV deal will be done] "I think you’ll hear something before Labor Day."

You can listen to the full interview with Mitch Levy online at www.sportsradiokjr.com or by clicking this link.

Now that we shed some speculative light on recent events, what are your thoughts?

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