There appears to be two avenues in getting an NBA team into the Seattle market: expansion or relocation. The NBA has expressed a remarkable interest in avoiding relocation at all costs … AFTER they let OKC steal the Sonics away. We’re all acutely aware of what went down in Sacramento and how the NBA did just about everything in an effort to block a move.
The NBA has also expressed an interest in being in the Seattle market again, but that appears to be more lip service than anything else. See, expansion just isn’t an option “right now”. But, if not now, then when?
There’s an article on ESPN you should read. Essentially, it goes into how Milwaukee is the new Sacramento. But, the real money quote shows up towards the bottom:
We don’t have 30 profitable teams in the NBA, and while we’ve made progress, there are still teams that aren’t competitive enough.
What they’re getting at is: until they’ve exhausted Seattle’s usefulness as leverage against all these other cities in getting new arenas built, only THEN will they consider expansion to the Seattle market.
Next up on the list is Milwaukee, whose lease agreement expires in 2017. Milwaukee’s arena is one of the oldest arenas in the NBA, having opened in 1988. Golden State’s arena is older, but it was remodelled in the 90s. Madison Square Garden is also older, but it was also renovated in the 90s (plus, let’s face it, there’s no concern about the Knicks being moved out of New York, so that dog just won’t hunt).
In 1988, Detroit’s arena also opened, but they built it as such that it’s still relevant from a seating and luxury box capacity, so no worry there. Minnesota’s arena was renovated in 2004. Phoenix had renovations in 2003. Cleveland was renovated in 2005. Chicago was renovated in 2010. Portland was renovated in 2007. Boston was renovated in 2009. Philly was renovated in 2006. Toronto was renovated in 2010.
No word on renovations for the D.C. arena, which opened originally in 1997. The seating capacity appears to be up to snuff, but it’s always a bad sign when an indoor arena has “rain delays“.
Also, no word on renovations for Indy’s arena, which will be one of the smaller arenas from a seating capacity (especially when Sacramento and Milwaukee get up to code). This one opened in 1999, which doesn’t seem to be that long ago, until you remember it was 14 years between KeyArena opening up and the Sonics leaving town.
The other arenas have all been built fairly recently and were built with the proper amount of luxury boxes and such.
So, the question remains: how many more times will Seattle have to be the bogeyman until we finally get a team of our own?
That’s tough to say, because no matter how good things are going, the league can always change the rules of the game whenever they want. You can have 30 arenas up to code, but that doesn’t mean that all the teams will be making a profit. Also, who’s to say that by the time all 30 arenas are “good enough”, they don’t change what the definition of what’s “good enough”? Then, there’s the issues with the new TV deal and how willing the other owners would be to split up their slice of the profits pie. And, of course, when you add a new team, you’re taking away from the talent pool (because that’s been such a huge issue as the league has grown from the 1980s to the 1990s to the new century; you’d think with the interest in making it a “global” game, the talent pool is as massive as the Earth is round).
There will ALWAYS be a reason to not give Seattle a team. But, in the immediate future, it won’t happen until Milwaukee has been dealt with. Which means they have anywhere between now and 2017, and even then it’s not a done deal. How long did it take Sacramento? A decade?
I’ll tell you this: our chances of stealing the Bucks away from Milwaukee are a lot better than our chances of getting an expansion team in the next five years. And you saw how easy it was to steal the Kings away from Sacramento when just about everything was going our way (oh, wait). If we don’t get a team promised to us in the next five years, that essentially ends our MOU and leaves us once again holding our dicks.
I hope you weren’t getting your hopes up with David Stern’s retirement. It’s going to be a lot of the same with his replacement.