Sports Fans Coalition board member Dave Zirin has a great post up today on why you should be rooting against the Thunder, even if you hate Miami Heat and the Lebron James. The crux of it is this — the beloved SuperSonics were stolen away from Seattle because taxpayers wouldn’t pay for a new stadium. It’s another slam dunk from Zirin — read it here.
A few other points are worth making here. One of the main reasons Seattle residents rejected a new stadium for the Sonics was because they were already paying through the teeth for two other recently constructed stadiums.
As Neil de Maus explains in Field of Schemes, “In five years [during the mid-1990s] the city’s two professional sports franchises went up for sale, threatened to leave town, and wrangled huge public deals for new stadiums from a concerned populace…When the dust cleared and the bonds were issued, the lawsuits thrown out of court and the public referenda ignored, King County taxpayers would be left with one of the most enormous sports debts in recent history – close to $1 billion andcounting for new homes for baseball’s Mariners and football’s Seahawks.”
Both of these stadiums were financed in part through a tax on car rentals. And that didn’t even count the $75 million the public agreed to pay in 1995 for renovations to Key Arena, the home of the SuperSonics.
Less than 10 years after Key Arena renovations, SuperSonics ownership sought an additional $200 million to expand Key Arena. After it became clear that the public was not willing to shoulder any more stadium debt, owner Clay Bennett uprooted the SuperSonics and took them to Oklahoma City, despite the 41-year history and tremendous following in Seattle. Even more absurdly, Seattle residents are still paying off the debt from the Seahawks previous stadium, the Kingdome, which was demolished in 2000.
And finally, if you’re still looking for more reasons to hate the Heat, consider this from Neil de Mause — the Heat may be cooking their books to avoid paying taxpayers their share of Heat profits, but no one knows because Miami-Dade County hasn’t bothered to check…