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Why this conversation matters (just a little, tiny bit)

I for one am actually enjoying the conversation of the last thread. It's a great group therapy session for me and I think people are bringing up a lot of good, and somewhat subtle points about this VERY strange set of circumstances we find ourselves in.

I want to point out a polite comment with good intentions from the last thread and why in some ways comments like it create a situation where our "respect" for Sacramento has to have some boundaries and our blatant self-interest in getting this done has to be acknowledged.

HaroldKatz states "How on earth does the Maloofs backing out of an arena deal “fall on” Sacramento? Sacramento kept up its end of the bargain, Stern said as much last year. I think you’re confusing Seattle’s inability to get an arena deal before the team moved to OKC with Sacramento’s situation."

For starters I don't think anybody really said that. But to respond to it I will say that it is pretty dismissive of our efforts to say Seattle's situation can be summed up as simply an "inability to get an arena done." But then on the flip-side say Sacramento deserves strong analysis of the owners actions, the process and all the betrayals?

The big problem I have is that this dialogue is actually a real and tangible portion of the public messaging strategy being deployed in support of Sacramento's argument that relocation should not be allowed by the Board of Governors. In addition to internet chatter it is clearly being spread by Kevin Johnson and his team as part of the "Muck it up" campaign. Pretty simply it is very difficult to show the need for a different outcome if the situation is substantively similar to the precedent set with the Sonics and OKC. In order to have ANY case at all for BOG intervention it is strongly in their best interest to demonstrate that Sacramento is a very different situation. They stepped up to save the team while Seattle did not.

That is the public messaging. The truth of the situation is not anywhere near that simple.

Sacramento has been trying for damn near a decade to get an arena deal done. When their lease expired in 2006 the government put together a deal to try to build a new arena and it failed miserably. The reason it failed is pretty widely recognized as incompetent ownership making a terrible pitch.

Seattle had an arena deal that ended in 2010 and our ownership went asking for a new arena in 2005. Their approach was also terrible. Their efforts were incompetent and at the end of the day legislature said "There are 5 years left on the lease, why would we even look at this so early?"

The only tangible difference between those two pathetic efforts is that Seattle's was a full 5 years before the lease expired (and only 10 after the KeyArena remodel) and Sacramento's was much later in the process. Sacramento's arena was resoundingly voted down by a margin of 80-20 (greater even than Seattle's I-91 margin) while Seattle's was deferred for a later date.

After the Sacramento vote failed the city has been given 6 full years to work on options and honestly I think they did a great job during those 6 years. They wound up electing a supportive Mayor who spearheaded getting it done but at the end of the day as a direct result of ownerships actions the scoreboard says that they do not currently have an arena deal. They have a framework of a deal. They are starting over on a whole new site and have acknowledged some previously undisclosed issues with entitlements at the rail yards. They tried really hard and worked in really good faith. They got pretty far down the path but it currently is not done.

You can't compare Seattle's next 6 years of effort because we weren't given that same chance. After Seattle failed we had about 8 months before the team was sold to an out of state owner who (as previously mentioned) put forward a really difficult deal and did a poor job supporting it. I would say that it is a tremendous stretch to say that in Sacramento the failure was all because of the Maloofs poor faith, but Seattle's should be held accountable for a lack of support of Clay Bennett. We were actually making some progress except for the fact that our ownership group pulled out a full 2 years before our lease expired.

From a personal standpoint I have no need to prove this to anybody and don't want to get into long debates or rub it in. However from a strategic standpoint the very last thing I want to do is be so courteous that I allow the "one city tried and the other didn't" argument to become the dominant dialogue. I'm not going to let guys like Carmichael Dave lie about my city and our efforts and then use that lie as a tool to undermine our efforts to bring the team back.

Oversimplification is a great campaign tool and I have been known to use it. If I believed our chatter mattered much at all I would really be fighting this fight. We would be out there fan base vs fan base trying to defend our record and prove that there was no difference. I would want to make sure that everybody knew that the situations were equally abhorrent and there was nothing distinguishing or tangibly better about Sacramento's efforts. I would call Kevin Johnson out publicly on his embellishments and accuse him of grandstanding for people on the internet.

The fact is that I think it matters very, very little and I understand why Kevin and the fans get some comfort in believing that the situations are not the same. I'm glad that this type of debate doesn't seem necessary, but I certainly do want to continue to have some dialogue where we stick up for ourselves a little bit here in our own little forum and say "don't be so fast to dismiss our previous efforts up here." You may think you are special but you aren't. The fact is that Sacramento is 8 years further down the road and irregardless of how they got there the tangible results are EXACTLY the same there as it was when it happened to us. That's why we say our experience tells us the outcome will be the same. I'm sorry about it but that is my feeling.

Both markets have VERY legitimate reasons why they can feel like this is unfair.

It makes me feel less sympathetic to the plight of Sacramento when I see the argument that we didn't support our team put forward. We do deserve to defend ourselves here. We did not do anything wrong either.