I was listening to Sports Radio the other day and a point was made that suddenly explained why Key Arena lacks the ability to be a serious revenue generator. The anwer was, to me a bit disturbing.
The discussion stemmed around Arco Arena in Sacramento, and Oakland Arena in in Golden State. Both of those arenas are relatively self encapsulated. You drive into the fenced arena parking lot, enter the arena, watch the game, and leave through the fenced parking lot. Very different from the Queen Anne experience of the Key.
The point made was that these types of arenas give the team the ability to capture all the revenue. You pay for parking in the arena parking lot, you have dinner at the arena restaurant, you buy your snacks at the arena vender, and of course you buy your beer at the arena bar for $10. All of your purchases come from, and all of your revenue goes to the arena and directly or indirectly the team.
The Key on the other hand is perfectly situated for the fan. If I cannot park for free after 6pm I usually take advantage of a little $5 lot a block away. I tend to grab thai food at Tip Tum Thai, snacks from Larry's Market, and will have a couple of drinks at Jaliscos or Floyds place before taking my $10 ticket and entering the game. From the Sonics perpsective they have lost almost all of the revenue from my night out.
What disturbs me is that some of the things I like most about attending basketball in Seattle very likely will have to change if this team is ever going to be financially successful. A new Arena if there is one may in fact be much better off located away from the Seattle Center and out of a great district like Queen Anne. I find myself wondering what the answer is to retain the quality of this experience for me in any new arena deal that benefits the ownership of the team.
Is there an answer that makes any sense for both fans and ownership?