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The other half of the Equation

Last night was honestly the first time I really shook aside the feeling that “this couldn’t happen to our team” and contemplated life with out the Sonics. My wife took the time to ask me if I would continue to follow the team after they departed and I frankly did not have an answer. I don’t think there is an answer until it happens to you. I can tell you with certainty that I would not suddenly become a Portland Trailblazers fan, and also that I assume I would still be an NBA fan, but I am not certain to what degree. Would I just adopt a new team and go from there? I really don’t know.

David Stern’s comments yesterday angered me greatly. Unlike some I do not feel animosity towards the commissioner or team ownership. I am embarrassed that this city I call home has so little leadership that they are allowing this to happen. If the team does leave it will be a black eye on the community that will last for a decade.

As the owner of a business I want to make a general rant and offer a bit of perspective to all you arena critics.

WANTING SOMETHING, AND WANTING IT AT IT’S MARKET COST ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS

On an almost daily basis I have people look at my product (in this case rental space) full of enthusiasm and dreams. This is all well and good but the dreams and enthusiasm tend to fade when they go back, balance the numbers, and focus on the cost instead of the product.

Fans who love the NBA and the Sonics, but aren’t willing to pay the market price just have to own up to the fact that they don’t love it as much as they think. There is not some type of magic coercion or diabolical plan by sports owners. There is simply an open market, a value on the open market, and no shortage of buyers willing to meet that price. If we don’t pay it we don’t get the product, plain and simple.

Look at the NBA like Barnes and Nobles bookstores. The retail chain figured out somewhere along the line that instead of wrapping books in plastic and having a “buy or get out” policy they would encourage people to browse, put in comfy seats and let you read the first 20 pages of a book as enticement to buy it. These casual viewings do not however pay the bills and if customers browse too much, and buy too little eventually the bookstore will close and people lose out on the benefits it provided. Customers (like me) who go and browse, but buy little should not have much to cry about if something in the store isn’t to their liking.

The NBA is a similar beast. Lots of fans catch the games for free on TV and that is all well and good. However if you think that you can get by with just that free preview you run the risk of having the whole store close down shop in your city. If you really want the business to be viable then you have to buy their product. In the NBA that means BOTH ticket purchases and arena deals.

It is a bummer that the market is this way and that the burden falls on the community. It is not however an opinion or a radical concept that the city fund the arena. It is a fact that multiple cities are willing to ante up and if we don’t want to then Oklahoma City or Las Vegas will.

Just imagine the concept: Oklahoma City is becoming a more attractive media market than Seattle. Just the though of it makes me angry.