Vern Tells It Like It Is for September 19th, 2010: Of Storms and Stadiums

ButTellsitI don’t really do these columns anymore, but what the hell. Here is a column I want to write. You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to. It’s a free country.

I thought this was gonna be a followup or update to a previous column, but using the power of search engines I can’t figure out where I wrote about this topic before. I don’t know if it was in some talkback or comments or on the door of a bathroom stall or what but I could’ve sworn that somewhere I wrote about the phenomenon of the multi-millionaire owners of professional sports teams blackmailing taxpayers into building them unnecessary new stadiums. So forgive me if I repeat myself here.

There was this article on the front page of the Seattle Times yesterday about a proposal for an exhibit by the glass artist Dale Chihuly in Seattle Center. Seattle Center is not literally the center of Seattle, it’s the grounds of the 1962 World’s Fair, used as sort of a combination public park and tourist trap. It contains the famous Space Needle, the Frank Gehry designed Experience Music Project/Sci-Fi Museum (that place that had the Alien Queen), a short monorail track to downtown, a Science Center where you go to see the Imax movies, etc. It also has a section of low rent carnival type rides called Fun Forest which is closing down soon, and various parties are fighting over what to do with that spot.

Personally I wish they would give it to Linda and Michelle Lee, who have been trying to build the Bruce Lee Action Museum downtown, but I don’t think they’ve tried to stake a claim on this place. Most of the proposals I’ve heard are along the lines of “it should be some grass and trees, where I can go to read a book.” That shit pisses me off because there is already a whole bunch of grass and trees there and motherfucker I never once saw you reading a book there. Until the day I see a line of people waiting for a book-reading spot I’m not building you your own private reading meadow. Realistically the neighborhood needs to lure in the tourist dollars, so as much as I know for sure I would never once set foot in the Chihuly museum unless I got turned around and thought it was the men’s room, I think it’s at least a better idea than more grass.

So anyway take a look at the highlighted portion of this ineptly scanned article here (sorry about that, it should say “CHIHULY” at the top):

storm-chihuly1The arena in question is the KeyArena, originally built as the Washington State Pavilion for the World’s Fair and known for many years as the Seattle Coliseum until it was remodeled in 1994-1995. The NBA team was the Seattle SuperSonics, who in the early 2000s were owned by a group headed by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. In 2004 those guys started saying that geez, although the recent remodeling of the arena won’t be paid off until 2015 it’s just such an old out of date piece of crap that nobody really can use it, and it would be a shame if we had to sell the team to out of town owners who would move them to another city, but we really would have no choice but to do that unless somebody did something thoughtful like give us $220 million to rebuild the arena with more private suites for rich people to hide in during the games.

It’s a pretty good scam that has successfully bilked money from cities all across the map, but Seattle had already fell for it with the Mariners (Safeco Field) and the Seahawks (Qwest Field) and although those places are nice we felt a little weird about doing it a third time. My opinion back then was that I had recently seen Prince play the KeyArena, and if it’s good enough for Prince it’s good enough for the fucking Sonics. It had been 20 years since Purple Rain, but 25 since the one time the Sonics were NBA champions. So I’m gonna have to go with Prince on this one. Nothing wrong with KeyArena.

Sure enough the Starbucks guy sold the team, along with their WNBA counterparts the Seattle Storm, to some assholes from Oklahoma City. Those assholes had a similar “believe me, I really really want to stay here, but it almost seems like you guys don’t want to give me millions of dollars for free during a time when the city is so bankrupt that the libraries have to close down for 2 months of the year. You’re not giving me alot of choices here, guys.” type of attitude.

Of course all the local politicians tried to bend over backwards to do exactly what the rich assholes wanted, but they were thwarted by Seattle’s famous liberals. A group called “Citizens For More Important Things” drafted and overwhelmingly passed I-91, which prevented the city from funding stadiums for professional sports teams.

The Oklahomans weren’t bluffing, they packed up the Sonics and left town. It’s like that TV movie “I Know My First Name Is Steven,” they’re now hiding out with a creepy new dad, calling themselves the Oklahoma City Thunder. Those who weren’t in the 75% who voted for I-91, or who live outside of the city but were hoping we’d pay for the stadium for them, said we fucked up. People started to panic. Alot of the restaurants in the neighborhood that counted on Sonics fans for business did have to close. It was rough going for a little bit.

But here’s the beauty of it, the reason why I’m boring you with all this local history. We were confronted with a scam that many cities have faced, being blackmailed by a corporation, bullied into bailing out their broken business model. And the conventional wisdom is that you have to give them what they want because if you don’t you’re fucked. We didn’t do that, we chose our own integrity over the NBA. We said yeah, we like basketball, but fuck you man, are you kidding me? No. No way. Get the fuck out of here.

And then as they were leaving we said “But you don’t really need that women’s team though, do you?” and they said, “What women’s team? We own a women’s team?” And we said “Yeah, I think so, why don’t you look around for it and if you find it we’ll take it off your hands.” Four local business women who were Storm season ticket holders banded together and bought them from the Oklahomans so they could keep them in Seattle.

And that’s the real pisser of the Chihuly article, because look at the other front page article that’s right next to it:

storm-chihulyDude, the trophy is right there! Nobody cares if KeyArena is “missing its NBA team” on the day when the Storm came home from Atlanta as WNBA champions.

We love the Storm. They’ve always been a good team, and they won the championship back in 2004 when Howard Schultz was just starting to dream of that new stadium smell. But this season was unprecedented. They only lost 6 games. They were undefeated at home, in that not-good-enough-for-NBA craphole. Of course the best games are the close and competitive ones, the ones with dramatic come-from-behind victories. They had alot of those, but at one game that I went to they made a new record for the biggest blowout in WNBA history, so that was fun too.

This year they got WNBA coach of the year, MVP and finals MVP. Since ’04 they haven’t done well in the postseason, but this year they swept both of their playoff series and also their finals. They had the highest winning percentage of any team in the history of professional sports in Seattle.

The Times heavily covered the win and the celebration and had a commemorative pull out poster in the Sunday paper. But they can still get away with that “need something to celebrate” line above because alot of men think the WNBA is insignificant or even a joke. Since it’s women they gotta find some excuse to downplay their achievement. Yeah, they did well, but their season isn’t as long, their quarters aren’t as long, they don’t dunk, whatever. In fact you could argue that women basketball players have to work much harder than men, because not getting paid as much most of them play in more than one league. For example our beloved MVP Lauren Jackson also plays for the Australian national team and has played for teams in South Korea and Russia. Even aside from that though some people who know what they’re talking about say women play harder anyway. And that’s not even bringing up that “men could never stand the pain of childbirth” thing.

Within the WNBA, Seattle is known as the largest and most passionate group of fans. The ESPN anchors often mention it and it’s noticeable in the broadcasts – the crowds are so much louder at KeyArena. I think part of that is that the idea of a great women’s sports team, and of the Storm in particular, fit the culture of Seattle in ways that an NBA team never could. They represent us well.

You may have heard that alot of lesbians love women’s basketball. It’s true and I like it. It’s refreshing to go to a sporting event where you can hear women yelling at the ref, where you can see gay couples with their kids having a family day and not worrying about getting shit for it. I also like seeing fathers bringing their daughters to the games, bonding with them the way they’re expected to with their sons. Seattle is gay-friendly and feminist-friendly so why shouldn’t we like the WNBA more than other cities?

In Seattle we respect home grown businesses, locals who do something really well and turn it into a local institution. Okay, some of those businesses grow into monsters, like Starbucks and Microsoft, and we start to resent them. But at least our rich people tend to put their money into things they’re passionate about, like Bill Gates with his foundation. Two of the Storm owners made their money at Microsoft, one was a deputy mayor, the other one an entrepreneur of some kind. But they never set out to own a basketball team, they just wanted to keep the team they loved in Seattle.

That’s the kind of business we want here. Not somebody just trying to make as much money as humanly possible. So just the ownership of this team is very Seattle. In the victory parade for the team on Friday, as one of the owners rolled by in the back of a car, I heard people yelling out “Thank you!” I’m pretty sure Howard Schultz never got that even on his best day.

I do got one complaint: this year the Storm got sponsored by “bing,” and put the fuckin bing logo on their uniforms so big you can’t even tell where it says Storm. Not only am I against the crass commercialism and what not, but I’m just so tired of the endorsements because no matter how many times they try, they are not gonna trick me into thinking that there is anything that makes sense about the phrase “the official decision engine of the Seattle Storm.”

But they also had a tie-in with the small local chain Top Pot Doughnuts, and I approve that one. If you ever get a chance to have the donuts from their cafes (not the mass produced ones they sell at Sounders games or at Starbucks) you won’t regret it. If their uniforms said Top Pot on it in giant letters I probly wouldn’t mind as much, I gotta admit, due to my strong opinions about the glazed old fashioned.

Anyway, the stuff I’m talking about is mostly symbolic. That makes it deep, that gives the Storm meaning. But you gotta acknowledge that the best thing about the Storm is just that they’re fun to watch. I like their style. They do it like THE EXPENDABLES instead of RAMBO. So many teams (not just in WNBA, not just in basketball) are built around a star player or two who dominate all. The Storm have three superstars, Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird (both of them Olympic gold medalists) and Swin Cash, but unless there’s an obvious window it’s rare that one of them just plows through and tries to force it. Their style is to pass the ball around and the other team never knows where the pain is gonna come from. They’ll put everybody on Jackson and they’ll pay for it, because she’s not the only one that can play. Even the second stringers on the team are very solid.

storm-trioAnother thing I like about them, and I apologize in advance for this, but I would rather watch these women running around for a couple hours than a bunch of men, you know what I mean? I’m not trying to get on some Harry K. horndog shit here, but this is telling it like it is, and it’s one angle that I’m surprised the macho assholes who don’t respect the WNBA haven’t picked up on yet. I’m not completely enlightened, I must admit. I’m only human. The athleticism is the draw, but it only makes them seem hotter. It’s a vicious circle. The stronger they are as women the more they attract that male gaze I read about one time. Sorry, ladies. I didn’t mean to.

Also, Sue Bird used to have to wear a Hannibal Lecter type mask after she broke her nose. Extra points for pulling off that look.

You may think I’m some Johnny Come Lately to be writing about the Storm now, but I swear man I’ve been enjoying their works for a few years now. Unfortunately there is a sexist stigma against the women’s sports in the U.S., except for Foxy Boxing which is very respected. So I admit, I didn’t go around bragging about it. I only spoke about it in code and little hints, like a random reference in the opening of my DEAD-END DRIVE-IN review.

As I was trying to finish this column up there was a Q&A on C-SPAN, this guy Dave Zirin talking about what sounded like a really interesting book called Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love. Alot of what he was talking about was the public subsidizing of stadiums, how many communities get suckered into it and how it never works out for them financially. It really reinforced my feeling that we won this battle.

I didn’t come here to sell you on women’s sports or nothing, I just want to show an example of how the assholes don’t always have to win. As a city we took this one stand against the assholes, we didn’t buy them a stadium, and they tried to shit on us by taking our team away, but all their shitting did was fertilize the roses or whatever. (poetic imagery) We’re so much better focusing our love on an awesome WNBA team than putting up with the abuse of a mediocre NBA one. As I mentioned in my review of WHIP IT the absence of the Sonics also paved the way for Rat City Roller Girls skating in the same arena where Jay-Z plays. That’s another feminist, pro-gay, homegrown, even volunteer run organization with loyal fans and out of control success. No national championships yet, but only by taking the NBA’s leftover stadium did they achieve the attendance record for modern roller derby. Man, it’s so much better without the fucking Sonics.

Also, in order to get out of their lease, the Oklahomans had to pay off the debt from the previous remodel, so that year KeyArena made their first profit in about a decade. It’s like the Music Man, the guy comes into town to pull this con job but he ends up enriching the town through music. And in this case I think he also ended up paying off everybody’s student loans. Pleasure doing business with you, chumps. Yours truly, the champs.

This entry was posted on Monday, September 20th, 2010 at 1:53 am and is filed under Vern Tells It Like It Is. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

65 Responses to “Vern Tells It Like It Is for September 19th, 2010: Of Storms and Stadiums”

  1. I don’t know anything about this Chihuly character, but from what films have told me about dudes with eyepatches, he’s either a badass, a pirate or running an international criminal organisation. If you’re going to have a museum not about Bruce Lee, those are three good categories for museumage.

  2. That guy doesn’t want to build a museum, he wants to build a secret hideout in a volcano on an island.

  3. So what happens in the States when your local team is relocated to another city? Do you still support them? Even though they are hundreds of miles away and playing under a comletely new name? The assholes who bought Manchester United in the UK had done something similar with a team and turned them into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. What happens to all the fans left behind? How did it get to the point when loyal fans, who buy the tickets get brushed aside? Who are these sports being played for?

    On a similar note, I have backed off from Premier football in the Uk because I feel it is to far removed from the common man.

  4. Hey at least you’re not New Jersey: they are still in debt for a stadium which has been torn down LOL

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/08/sports/08stadium.html

    wait, oops… ok Seattle is still screwed, 2nd paragraph:

    New Jerseyans are hardly alone in paying for stadiums that no longer exist. Residents of Seattle’s King County owe more than $80 million for the Kingdome, which was razed in 2000. The story has been similar in Indianapolis and Philadelphia. In Houston, Kansas City, Mo., Memphis and Pittsburgh, residents are paying for stadiums and arenas that were abandoned by the teams they were built for.

  5. RIGHT ON. YES.

    As an unapologetic male fan of Women’s Basketball I would just like to thank Vern for every word of this excellent essay.

    All I have to add is that Sanda Berenson (the great-great aunt of Marisa Berenson from BARRY LYNDON) started the first women’s basketball team at Smith College in 1892, a year after Naismith invented the damn sport, and that Radcliffe had a women’s basketball team in 1895, and there was a previous women’s pro league, the WBL, from 1978 to 1981, so please don’t anybody start up with this, “Well, basketball is a men’s game traditionally played by men and now all of a sudden these girls come along in 1997 and think they can play.” nonsense.

  6. They are trying to pull off the same shit in Quebec City with the hockey team. A Big Business is pushing an heavily-debt governement into paying for a new arena to eventually get the Nordiques back in town (they moved to Colorado in 1996).

    Socializing the cost and privatizing the profit.

  7. Sebastian – Isn’t Winnepeg doing the same thing?

  8. Well I gotta say, I’ve never heard of women’s basketball, and I’m sold.

    It’s a crying shame what the profiteers are doing though. Unfortunately it’s just another facet of the world we live in nowadays (it’s not as though we don’t get enough of this crap over here in the UK either). Good to know that it doesn’t always work out for them.

  9. Off-topic – Vern, did you do an Idiocracy review anywhere?

  10. The whole thing sounds like Delta City in Robocop. Just another example of Verhoeven calling it years before it happens.

  11. RRA – yes it is.

  12. RRA – I don’t know if anyone is trying to scam money in Winnipeg, but people have been talking about getting the Jets back. Luckily, the Quebec arena looks like it won’t be funded by the government. If it’s really such a great idea then the business dudes can put their money where their mouths are and fund it themselves.

  13. My buddy Mojo sells a strain of Seattle weed that he calls Top Pot. Now I know what he is referring to. Nice to know a pot dealer can be so intertextual.

    Sebastien: The Quebec situation is particularly crass because the federal government has no intention of forking over money for the arena; they’re just dressing up cabinet ministers in Nordique sweaters as a cynical method of attracting voters after a summer in which their polling numbers dropped dramatically in La Belle Province. No doubt when the funding fails to materialize, they’ll blame the opposition parties.

    After examining the kickbacks and corporate welfare doled out in the home constituencies of some of the most vocal supporters of the “free market” (Gingrich being among the worst), Chomsky argued that the word “crony” is superfluous when discussing “crony capitalism” as it is currently practiced in the US.

  14. Vern, since you mention it, I’d really love to read your review of The Music Man (the 1962 version).

  15. Motherfuckers are about to build a stadium for the goddamn Nets in Brooklyn. The New Jersey Nets, mind you. In Brooklyn. I don’t even think they’re changing the name. It’s already caused the foreclosure of dozens of local business (including Freddie’s, a landmark bar that’s been around since it Ye Olden Tymes) and will basically put a gaping crater in the center of Brooklyn for years and years, causing massive traffic jams and basic Bostonian Big Dig-level hideousness. And that’s before we have to deal with giant arena nobody who lives here will actually ever go to. They’re going through with this plan despite the fact that I have not spoken to a single human being who is in favor of it and doesn’t think it’s the single shittiest move in the history of shitty moves, and not just because no one anywhere has ever given a single solitary fuck about the Nets. It kind of fell through when the economy shit itself a few years ago so we all forgot about it but then it suddenly came back and was already a done deal by the time we realized what was happening. It’s gonna ruin the vibe of the center of Brooklyn to the point where it’ll be like an alien mothership landed in the middle of the city and started pumping out poison gas to make the atmosphere compatible for the extraterrestrial warlords and not the actual inhabitants. I may have to move to Queens. Do you understand how much I hate Queens? Queens can eat a hundred dicks daily. The situation is that desperate. I would take a WNBA team any day over this bullshit. So congratulations to Vern and the people of Seattle for standing up to the rich assholes who think the world is their sandbox to play in or poop in as they please.

  16. it is really nice to hear you speak out on stadium financing. what a fucking scam. it is absolutely never a good deal for the city when they play into subsidizing that bullshit. tons of economists have studied these deals and they invariably agree that is a sucker play. also this is a pretty good site about it: http://www.fieldofschemes.com/

  17. “… it’ll be like an alien mothership landed in the middle of the city and started pumping out poison gas to make the atmosphere compatible for the extraterrestrial warlords …”

    Would it change your mind if you learned that they were finally building the first phase of the Wyld Stallions utopia?

  18. My utopia has the New Jersey Nets in New Jersey. Or possibly Queens.

  19. Rat City Rollergirls (currently ranked 6th in the nation) would like to thank the Sonics for leaving behind a wonderful home for us to play.

  20. Majestyk: That’s a utopia I can get behind.

    How do you feel about Madison Square Garden? Is it sufficintly integrated into the surrounding neighborhood? Or do you feel these kinds of facilities are better left to the outlying areas?

    Also, has anyone every enjoyed a concert in a sports facility? I stopped attending shows at those places years ago.

  21. You can’t really compare the Garden to the new arena. Not only has the Garden been there forever, it’s in Midtown Manhattan, surrounded by skyscrapers, connected to Penn Station, and about eight blocks from Times Square. It fits right in. And to call that area a “neighborhood” is really a stretch. It’s mostly just a place people come to work. I see apartment buildings so people must live there, although I’ve never met any of them. Besides, they knew damn well the Garden was there when they moved in. That’s not the same thing as dropping a massive sports arena in the middle of an area full of brownstones and bodegas where people like to walk around and go to tag sales and shit.

  22. Mr. Majestyk: I’m going to go out on a limb here and make the wild accusation that it might be possible that you don’t like Queens ;-P

    As for Madison Square Garden: they destroyed one of the most beautiful train stations on the world, and turned it into a rat run under an arena, an arena that could have gone anywhere. And for that, i will always despise Madison Square Garden. And the developers who made the decision to destroy that beautiful train station deserve to have their gravestones kicked over.

    http://www.nyc-architecture.com/GON/GON004.htm

  23. Majestyk: The whole WTF aspect of building a stadium in Brooklyn for a New Jersey team isn’t lost on me. It begs the question: what did New Jersey think they’d be spoiling by putting the damn stadium next to the Clementon Amusement Park? Did the folks in Newark not want anything to ruin their view of the Prudential Financial building? Nutley is the birthplace of Valium; you’d think you could get away with building anything there without a whimper of protest.

    Also, what is it about Queens that you dislike? Not a fan of Long Island?

  24. BR Baraka: There was a book of photographs published about the demolition of Penn Station. It’s heartbreaking stuff, especially when you consider that the old station was replaced by a building that looks like a massive urinal cake.

  25. Sara Problem from Grave Danger! Great job last season, I was rooting for you guys.

  26. I live in Indianapolis and sadly, the locals here recently got suckered into ponying up hundreds of millions of dollars that the city doesn’t have to build not just one, but TWO sports stadiums for the local teams (Colts and Pacers.) The Colts have this city wrapped around their finger; when Irsay says “jump” the local government says, “what shark?” (thank you Venture Bros), and the city REALLY wanted their superbowl bid to work, so there was no way that they weren’t going to get everything they wanted, no matter the financial consequences.

    But the Pacers are well on their way to being the team that gets replaced by Charlie Sheen and Wesley Snipes and various walk-ons, they’re so terrible and criminally-inclined that pretty much everyone hates them, and they still got their overpriced new arena, beause what the Simon family wants, the local government will give them.

    Meanwhile, this city has absolutely NO public tranportation (we only have a limited bus system and it is a bad joke… if you ride the bus in this town it is a punishment for poor life choices) and the libraries are being shut down. One of my favorite places to go downtown, the Hollywood Bar and Filmworks (a movie theater that served really good bar food and drinks, and would show old movies as well as new ones) shut down due because the city government had to raise the sales tax and parking rates to finance the Conseco Fieldhouse, which helped kill off many businesses operating downtown. The owner wrote an open letter to the newspaper about why he had to shut down ( PDF warning… http://www.bartlies.com/Say%20Goodbye%20to%20Hollywood.pdf). And we’ve got a WNBA team here, but aside from the local free newspaper doing the occasional story, you’d never know about them.

    I grew up here and still like this town for many reasons, but man, it’s full of short-sighted morons who get to make all the policy decisions.

  27. Holy shit so that episode of The Simpsons where they’re gonna move the baseball team to Albuquerque isn’t a joke? That kind of thing actually happens? Man, that’s crazy, I can’t imagine how that would even work, how the fans/players must feel. I guess that’s why they like giving them silly names rather than just the City name, easier to move them if you’re just moving the “Tigers” rather than “Philidelphia Utd” or whatever.

  28. The current incarnation of Penn Station really is a piece of shit. It’s always smelly and swampy and full of off-brand fast food and the most aggressive homeless people in the city. Of course, Grand Central is as impressive-looking as ever and I still hate going there, so Penn would probably still suck even if they hadn’t torn down the old one.

  29. Oh, and I don’t like Queens because I work there. It’s also an ugly post-industrial Balkan suburb that’s really difficult to get around in if you don’t have a car. The Beer Garden’s pretty cool, though.

  30. Vern, if I weren’t already married, I think I would like to propose to you at a Seattle Storm game for this article.

    It’s terrible how women’s sports are not at the very least respected. Even here in Canada, I notice that same stigma, especially in the coverage of girls’ high school and college teams. I would say that women’s hockey is well-respected, though, but that’s more because of the sport than the fact that women are playing. Canadians really are hockey freaks, if parents getting into fights at toddler Timbits league games is any indication.

    And the Fun Forest is shutting down? What a terrible thing to do to such a classy place! As a former Washingtonian, I have fond memories of getting lewd comments directed at me as I waited in line for the single flume log ride and of getting sick after riding the tobaggen ride four times in a row. Now I’ll never be able to take my boys to play the overpriced games and win mirrors with late-80’s rock band logos on them!

  31. I like how the photo of the Storm players makes it seem like their mad at Vern talking about their attractiveness in the paragraph beside it.
    Also, if support the creation of the BLAM (Bruce Lee Action Museum), even if chances are I’d never get to go to it.

  32. I’ll admit that my enjoyment is based on a pre-existing condition*, so your mileage may vary, but for real, folks, Dale Chihuly is awesome. His finished work is incredible, but watching the process is utterly spectacular.

    The computer screen tends to diminish the immensity of the underaking, so I’ve been unable to find a clip online that truly manages to capture the extreme physicality, toil and grace required to create pieces on the scale of Chihuly’s team.

    http://www.chihuly.com/Video/inhotshop_150.html

    That one doesn’t even come close, so if you’ve got nothing going on and notice Chihuly in the Hot Shop playing on PBS or Bravo or Ovation, I’d recommend giving it a few minutes of your time.

    * I got turned onto Chihuly by a friend who saw him on PBS and was familiar with my longstanding fascination with neon lights. It’s a totally commonplace item with a completely banal purpose, but it’s amazing. Next time you’re outside of a bar (or in a Spencer’s Gifts), take a moment to defamiliarize yourself with the marvel of neon. It’s hundreds of years of technological study and experimentation combining to tell people we sell (or like) Corona.

  33. One time I saw Dale Chihuly playing a sit-down driving video game in the lobby at a multiplex.

  34. Mr. MAjestyk – Remember when the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS tried to move to that damn staidum in what was it, Manhattan? That team for some reason has your city’s media by the balls, despite honestly not earning it. Not since the Broadway Joe days.

  35. I could give a dog’s dick about any particular sporting organization, so they can all stay the fuck out of my city as far as I’m concerned. I moved to New York so I had something to do besides sit around and watch sports.

  36. I’ll always wonder why people get so upset when the government helps pay for the underprivileged to feed themselves but are unconcerned when their city government willing hands over millions to corporations so they make millionaires even richer.

  37. Vern – you realise YOU just replied to an off-topic spambot, right?

    (Yeah, revenge is sweet…)

  38. Mr. Majestyk – So you want to be the Anti-Carl-from-ATHF?

  39. “we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed.”

    that quote from the site BR Baraka posted above and this post makes me think of Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg, which touches on a lot of the same stuff. And some other weird things.

    Good flick.

  40. Paul – not true. Sara is a skater from the Rat City Rollergirls, who because of the Sonics leaving have been able to use the KeyArena for two seasons of roller derby so far. That is on topic and mentioned in the column, which is probly why she found it. (also, spambots tend to link to advertisement for acne medication and what not.)

  41. A Love/Hate story/rant:
    Growing up less than 15 miles from Charlotte Coliseum, I was one of the most fervent, committed Hornets fans in the world. They sold out every game, setting attendance records for several years and selling more jerseys & paraphernalia than any NBA team. Many of my friends & old neighbors share vivid memories of JR Reid, Kendall Gill, Kelly Tripucka, Kurt Rambis, Zo, LJ aka GranMaMa, etc.. I cheered Rex Chapman but was won over by Dee Brown’s Reebok-pumping antics at the slam dunk contest at the Coliseum in 1991. I trick or treated at Muggsy Bogues’s and Dell Curry’s houses.

    I sold movie tickets to PJ Brown and his family. I jovially bigged up Baylor University when David Wesley came to my line at the concessions for popcorn. I joked and jived with Eldridge Recasner and Baron Davis in the parking lot after we left the same screening of, I don’t remember, Romeo Must Die or something. I went to see the craziness when Master P aka Percy Miller almost made the second cut for the Hornets before preseason. I got my favorite Hornet, the severely underappreciated Ricky Davis, to autograph some stuff. I was in some “junior sports reporter” contest and got to interview Paul Silas & Eddie Robinson and watch 2 practices. The hottest girl I’ve ever hooked up with, I met at a Hornets game. (My posse basically dared me to go down to the lowest level to try to grab a seat next to her & her friend, so we could finagle some ill-defined, hopeful acceptance of my invitation to a party that didn’t exist yet. After spending the entire second half with this blonde hottie who also happened to be a rich 17 year old, my ecstatic, still blunted high school friend told me, “You’ve got more balls than you need.”)

    So anyway, I was a big Hornets fan.

    A bunch of stuff happened around the time of the NBA strike/lockout in 1999 until the final game in 2002. People started to hate the Hornets owners & operators. There were a lot of empty seats all of a sudden. I’d go to read the best NBA writer ever, Rick Bonnell, and there would be a bizarre business section type string of articles infecting the sports pages of the Charlotte Observer, something about revenue and taxes and luxury boxes and probably a lot of the same nonsense that pisses off Vern and 75% of his fellow Seattleans. There was some sex crime allegation against one of the big bosses.

    It wasn’t all bad, though, because this all coincided with my newly legal ability to drive my mom’s Lumina and a wonderful surge of laxness among Coliseum ticket-checkers at the lower level aisles. I’d buy $9 tickets and then slide down to the 5th row before halftime, because I’m a badass obviously. One time I had an hour long conversation with some Sacramento Bee guy about Vlade Divac, Randy Moss, Jason Williams, and tectonic plates when the Kings came to town and I scored a spot behind the near-courtside press table area.

    When the Hornets moved to New Orleans, it was devastating, but I was just old enough and busy enough with college that it didn’t hit me too hard. Awful yet somehow adequate modern fake ID technology combined with modern sports bar technology & modern satellite TV technology allowed me to see enough NBA to get my hoops fix, and there were more national broadcasts on TNT and stuff. Also, it helped that the Hurricanes (Ha! Fuck you, Hartford!) distracted some Carolinians by making a showing in the Stanley Cup finals. (And later, 2006 Champs!)

    It wasn’t right, after all the money and time I spent being a good fan, that I got abandoned like that because of economic nonsense. 2001-2002 was my first time feeling bitterness & resentment toward an entire city and an entire organization I had always appreciated. The Bobcats aka BETcats have greatly helped fill the hole in my jilted Charlotte sports-loving heart, but circa 2002 was a shameful period.

    And then the Hornets, like the eventual Thunder, came to be associated with Oklahoma City. And OKC became loved seemingly by all, basking in the light of one of the few positive side effects of Katrina. I would come to empathize with Sonics fans (Shawn Kemp used to be my favorite player.) as I could no longer be a fan of my once favorite team. Rather, I empathized with their feelings of disgust & resentment toward the franchise ownership, feelings which I gladly transfer toward Oklahoma City as well.

    I didn’t know the depth of my hatred, springing from the association with the traitorous Hornets and the wronged Supersonics, for the entire state of Oklahoma until I spent a miserable winter assignment in Fort Sill/Lawton before my last Ranger assignment. Man, do I hate Lawton. The college parties in OKC and the night life (Ever want to see line dancing with 400 disgusting people spontaneously synchronizing their cowboy boots?) in OKC & Lawton were tame, the girls tamer, and the beer tamest—beer isn’t allowed to be more than 2.3% alcohol there! THE BEER IS WATER!

    Oklahoma is my least favorite state. Why is Texas still in the US? Cause Oklahoma sucks and Mexico blows, hardyharhar. But seriously, the Comanche Nation Casino in Lawton owes me at least a couple hundred dollars. And what kind of cheapass casino makes you pay for drinks? And doesn’t carry Grey Goose? And I asked a cab driver there to take me to the nicest restaurant in town, and she drove me to a fucking Ryan’s-style family buffet joint. And the best hotel near Fort Sill knows that it has a great location, near a shitty sports bar and a shitty strip club, for soldiers to spend weekends and stuff, so they jack up the prices well beyond what their actual property value should merit. I go months at a time completely dry, operating in the shittiest hellholes on earth, and this is the kind of restaurant & entertainment scene I have to pep me up when I try to break the stultifying grind of a season of artillery and close air support training at that ice storm & tornado tormented installation known as Sill?

    So I have nothing positive to associate with Oklahoma. Even the musical is shitty, in my opinion. Nic Cage reciting the entire alphabet to make a point to his imaginary shrink—brilliant, bravo. Spelling out the name of your home state and the name of your musical in its signature song—pathetic, fuck you.

  42. Chris: The bile that Maddin directs at the Winnipeg city council over the destruction of his beloved arena is pure awesomeness. I couldn’t care less about sports, but Maddin’s righteous indignation in MY WINNIPEG is a thing of beauty. Also, the Ledgeman sequence and the fake family is genius.

  43. Paul: your spambot detector is completely broken, man. Take that shit into the shop

  44. I’ve got to agree with Mouth. I recently drove across the country (and then drove back in shame shortly thereafter) and I have to say that I was never more afraid for my life than when I stopped in Oklahoma. There’s just something about it that made me, a longhaired, liberal atheist, extremely ill at ease. But because I don’t want to spread the hate, I will say that the western half of the state was extremely beautiful and made me think that, were I a pioneer in a conestoga instead of a douchebag in a Buick Regal, that I would probably settle there.

    Middle America: Depressing, poor, scary, mostly flat, and amazingly, beathtakingly picturesque. Just my opinion. Your mileage may vary. (Not my catchphrase.)

  45. Seattle loves women’s hoops? Don’t they also have a high suicide rate? Just sayin’.

  46. Majestyk,

    It isn’t like the location is some bucolic residential area… hell, there’s a wretched three-story mall practically next door. And, if I’m not mistaken, the busiest transit hub in Brooklyn. Now I don’t know how the money in this deal works, but if the city isn’t on the hook for anything, what better place is there in the borough?

  47. “Also, has anyone every enjoyed a concert in a sports facility? I stopped attending shows at those places years ago.”

    i dug Dylan at Madison Square Garden, and over in Sydney Green Day were okay in the Acer Arena. but yeah usually it’s shit
    i’d give an Australian perspective but i’m not really a sports fan here. growing up in Connecticut it was weird because we had a bunch of teams to choose from, kinda. we were Mets fans… wish i could have gone back to Shea again before they demolished it

  48. Vern – ah ballsacks. Well I wasn’t exactly going to click on the link, was I?

    At least we still have Griff.

  49. Great article Vern. Firstly, as an aussie, it’s great to hear that Seattle love the Storm and, in particular, Lauren. She is a great athlete and really should get more wraps. Instead all we get is are dumb footy players all over the papers, mainly for when they get caught in a orgy or peeing in the street. Yet probably one of the greatest Australian sporting stars ever rarely gets a mention. Except for when she and the rest of the Opals are too busy winning us medals.

    Also it’s good to hear a positive story about all those greedy owners trying to bluff cities into putting tax dollars into those behemoths. I mean, I love sports, and they need to be played somewhere but man. Good work Seattle.

  50. M. Casey: It’s not like they’re just building the arena on top of all the other bullshit that’s already there. They’re gutting blocks and blocks of residences and local businesses to build a stadium meant to house tens of thousands of people at a time, which will cause unbelievably horrid traffic in every direction. Where better in Brooklyn to build it? Nowhere. And that’s exactly where they should build it,

  51. Some famous people from Brooklyn:

    Mickey Spillane
    Harvey Keitel
    Larry David
    Steve Buscemi
    Henry Miller
    Richard Dreyfuss
    Elliott Gould
    Harry Houdini
    Spike Lee
    Edie Falco
    Mos Def
    F. Murray Abraham
    Abe Vigoda
    Lou Reed
    Alyssa Milano
    John Turturro
    Lou Ferrigno
    Foxy Brown
    Ol’ Dirty Bastard
    Louis Gossett, Jr.
    Richard Lewis
    Emmanuel Lewis
    Judge Judy
    Harvey Fierstein
    Calvert De Forest
    David Blaine
    Rhea Perlman
    Barry Manilow
    Mary Tyler Moore

    That would be one hell of a cast for a heist movie. They could all get together to subvert the construction of the Nets stadium. Of course, it would have to be like LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, given that some of these folks are, you know, dead.

    Or you could just send in Rosie Perez alone.

  52. And the villain could be Nets owner Jay-Z, a Brooklynite gone bad.

    We’d maybe need to have Biggie Smalls come back all blue and ghosty, Obi Wan-style, to show him the error of his ways.

  53. If SOUTH PARK has taught us anything, it is how to conjure the Ghost of Biggie Smalls.

  54. Jareth – why not just use the living ones? A heist movie starring Judge Judy, Barry Manilow, Alyssa Milano, Mos Def and Harry Houdini (come on, nobody seriously believes that he’s actually dead, do they?) – that would be pure awesome.

  55. I can see it. Judge Judy is the community activist who tried to squelch the project but failed. Alyssa Milano is the daughter of a local fruit stand owner who was strong-armed out of his business and subsequently died of a broken heart. Barry Manilow is a club owner who refuses to close his doors. Mos Def is himself. And Harry Houdini is the 136-year-old master thief who trains them all to perform the perfect crime. Get Spike Lee to direct and we might have something here.

  56. O.G. Paul: I couldn’t live with myself if I left Mickey Spillane off the list. That’s the kind of shit that ruins a guy’s credibility. Also, Calvert De Forest ruled. He’d be the one guy on the heist team capable of bringing Jay Z to the brink of madness with nothing more than a smile.

    Anyway, with Abe Vigota on the list, any issues of versimiltude between the living and the dead are pretty much moot.

  57. Yeah, about ten years ago here in Denver the owner of the Broncos passive-aggressively threatened to move the team if we didn’t pay to replace Mile High Stadium with a more commercially viable facility. The initiative passed easily but under the condition that the new stadium would be still be named “Mile High Stadium” in honor of our old facility and all it’s tradition and history and all that. We had no problem with having to fund the new stadium; in fact, I think most people were excited about it. All we wanted was to keep the fucking name instead of some corporate advertisement like “Bite-sized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup On Sale At 7-11 Stadium”.

    So anyway, the stadium was built and named Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium; the loophole being that the stadium is still named “Mile High”, he just sold the naming rights to the fucking grass inside of it. I’m pretty sure we paid for the grass too, but whatever. I guess you can’t stop the machine.

    It was such a controversy that one of our major newspapers refused to refer to the stadium as Invesco Field for a few years afterward. Then Invesco was accused of improper trading and almost went bankrupt in the process of settling the dispute. Our grass was almost named after a company that didn’t even exist anymore.

  58. Vern, I love you, but no. The Rat City Rollergirls do NOT make up for a lack of Sonics, and you call the Sonics a mediocre NBA team? Had they stayed here we would have all gone through the roof with excitement when they made it into the playoffs this year.

    Everything else I probably agree with you on, though. Well except for Chihuly v. Grass Park. I’ll take a big patch of grass over more of those stupid glass sculptures any day.

  59. Justin – I can see how you could feel that way if we could’ve just kept the Sonics. But do you really feel that way considering the actual choices we had?

    A) Rat City Rollergirls + more concerts + integrity

    B) Sonics + $220 million taxpayer funded rebuild of KeyArena + still paying off previous remodel through 2015

    I’m definitely sticking with A. I think it’s not only the better choice but one we should be bragging about, which is why I wrote this. Of course, whatsername formerly of the Seattle City Council might screw it all up by building a stadium in Bellevue.

  60. I know, it WAS the right choice that we made, but I’m still pissed that it was the only real choice we had to go with. Which, yea…is the whole point of the article I suppose.

    Anyway I think at some point we will have the Sonics back in some form, as we retained the name, the logo, and everything ‘Seattle Supersonics’ related. So when THAT happens we will be true champions. Scrappy underdogs from the wrong side of the tracks with nothing to lose, fighting back against the corporate fatcats! Or something.

  61. I hear you Justin. Thanks bud. Sorry that I dissed the Sonics, I didn’t mean to discount the love people had/have for them. I hope when your scenario comes true that it will be the Oklahoma City Thunder who are crushed by the new Sonics. And I hope it will happen in either a sold out, dilapidated Seattle arena or a completely empty, overpriced new one in Oklahoma.

  62. I love the idea of Oklahoma City effectively paying for Seattle. Hilarious.

  63. Looking like a strong possibility that the Sacramento Kings are changing owners & moving to Seattle in 2013/2014.

  64. I’m not a sports guy, but I’ve heard through the grapevine that Atlanta is about to take on Seattle

    and let me just say, YIPPEE KI YAY MR FALCONS

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