It is so weird having so many people contact me for my opinion on things. Remember, as AK says I am no expert.
Sorry Speed, but you're right. It seems comments are demanded and they should be on the front page rather than buried within a thread. Here goes.
Here is the unedited, not particularly substantial, but truthful overview of yesterdays events.
I had a fairly long and substantial sit-down with Fred Brown and David Bean in advance of yesterdays press conference. While it wasn't terribly substantive it was enough for me to get a better feel for both of them. In my limited past interaction with Mr. Brown we had not gotten along particularly well but yesterday he was quite articulate and frankly I felt like I was rude to the two of them with my obvious skepticism. It was hard to contain.
I entered the press conference really feeling in a bind. On one hand I feel a moral obligation to be generally supportive of anyone putting in time, effort, and money to try to resolve this problem. Let me tell you that I understand the concept of being laughed at because you are trying to do things that other people view as impossible. People who tackle the long odds like B&B deserve some support, especially from the grass roots guys.
That said this plan had, and has the potential to be disruptive to the Ballmer plan. All it takes is 1 or 2 city council members to state "Why should we give a dime when there are 100% privately financed options available?" and the sentiment of support shifts away. There was a serious problem in that, if I endorsed this plan and gave it credibility I could hurt the Key option, but if I was dismissive publicly then I was not supporting people who I think are allies in this whole mess.
As the press conference went on I transitioned from feeling the need to be skeptical, to feeling the need to be supportive. After all these guys had on their own taken the time to come up with something dynamic and visionary. I actually really liked their concept in a "perfect scenario" way, and I thought the media grew unecessarily harsh as the interview progressed. We understand that they didn't release the financial details of the project but dammit at least they have an idea. If we had a half dozen politicians in this city who thought outside the box that way this city would actually be growing in a positive way.
So all in all I don't think yesterday impacted things much at all. The media was dismissive of the plan and it will go in the docket as one more alternative. Who knows, maybe it will get fleshed out and combined with Ballmer & Co. to be the final plan. It's doubtful but I'd rather have multiple options than just 1.
Which puts us to the questions of "where are we today?" and "What should we be doing?":
It seems as if the city has gone from really encouraged regarding the additional $75M to very discouraged. They swear they are trying but that revenue streams are just not there. While I'm supportive of the city efforts I have to call BS to some degree. The first $75M they had offered is completely and 100% tied to facility user fees. It can barely be considered a public contribution when you factor in the fact that those same users won't be there if the team leaves. It would seem like they could come up with some type of contribution that comes not from the general fund, but from some dedicated stream. I'll tell you that in reviewing the Pier 46 plans last night I was struck by the fact that in 2003 the Port of Seattle completed a $76 Million remodel of Pier 46 to accomodate Hanjin Shipping lines as their primary tenant. What? A remodel to accomodate a tenant? Where was the public vote on that one?
If they don't get the money then it is back to the drawing board with litigation and 2 years on the lease being our primary weapons. I can say that I am in regular contact with Matt Griffens people and while their commitment to the deadline is firm I think there is very much an alluded to sense of "While we'd walk away from the table on the 10th we'd stil be listening to options and be ready to participate next year if it came to us." So I don't think it is done.
I continue to believe that the BOG vote is pretty much a done deal. I'm just not a believer in trying to lobby guys who frankly don't seem to care. If we have an option then we will blitz them with it but until then where do we put our energy?
I'm not certain. I have really been having the need to get back to my work and employees of late. In many ways I think right now we are very much waiting to see what happens with Griffen/Ballmer, the city, the state, the litigation, and even in Memphis which is percolating in really interesting ways and reacting to those events. We may or may not plan an end of season event.
I don't see any scenario where the Mayor drops the litigation and I see a very slight chance of losing that one. I've never believed the league will stick out 2 years of lame duck status without starting to look for solutions. That gives us options there. There is a pretty simple fact of life that SOS is not going to be the one who solves this problem. We can be there encouraging other people to come up with solutions, or more likely being supportive of options as they come along. Trying to drive the bus and actually create a solution seems like an unecessary burn of energy to me so I have trouble doing much right now when all the big players are trying to figure out their course of action.
I just personally really want this battle to be over before then. It's taking a toll on the fans.