Friday, June 6, 2014

No NHL for Seattle, No NHL for Kansas City but All the Lies You Can Handle!

A few weeks ago, reports said the NHL was seriously looking into Seattle as a viable option for a new NHL franchise.

How serious were they?!

So serious, it seems, that commissioner/overlord Gary Bettman and Bill Daly brought a possible future owner along with them.

So serious, the NHL wanted Seattle to go ahead with the construction of the arena under the auspices of an NHL franchise being the main tenant.

So serious, umm, the Florida Panther fired a bunch of employees (oh, wait, that's a different story.  More on this later).

Here is how Seattle mayor Ed Murray responded to the NHL:

So, no NHL.  And then this:

So, no NHL.  But why?:

So, in summary: The NHL came blowing into town with some rich guy and told Seattle to build their new arena, without anyone intending to give Seattle any money to build said arena.

And now, reports come out that Seattle may lose part of the financing for the new arena anyway if Steve Ballmer buys the Clippers.  With no intention to move a team to Seattle, there is no reason to build an arena, especially in an NBA-first scenario.

If you do not know how the new Seattle arena will be financed, it's not as easy as just squeezing the taxpayers or drudging up TIF money to cover Ballmer's lost money.  Take a gander at the official proposal site:

1. No new taxes will be required. The arena will be self-financed.  
2. Only taxes generated from construction and operation will be used for the project. In other words, it is funded by revenue that only exists because of the arena. 

3. The public will be protected by a contractual guarantee from the investment group, backed up by securities in a lockbox. 

4. The teams will enter into a binding non-relocation agreement until the arena financing is fully repaid. 
They call this a "new approach to arena financing," and one that can and should be admired.  Seattle knows what it is: a large metropolitan area with the desire to return to the status quo as a three major sport (and soccer) town, but understands it lost its former NBA franchise before their lease was up at the old arena.  No public taxes will be required to build an arena, and it will not get built without the new owners entering into a binding non-relocation agreement.  Thus, Sonics Part II cannot and will not happen.  Kind of refreshing in a world where taxpayers are asked to pay for new arenas under shady promises that never come true or were otherwise misleading.

To reset the scene: Seattle wants an NBA franchise, and an NHL franchise would be bonus but not going to happen on its own.  Oh, and the NHL is not going to throw any money at Seattle for the arena they want to put a hypothetical team into.

Yay, NHL, you're the best business role model!

Now, as we move on, keep in mind that this story came out in mid-May of this year.

* * * 

As most topics of interest, I'm late to the party on this next one.  Nice job on this article by the folks over at KC Kingdom.  The KC Star's sports editor Jeff Rosen recently spoke to Gary Bettman about placing an NHL franchise in the Sprint Center, and through it's not clear why this did not turn up in article format, the main point is that Bettman does not see the NHL in Kansas City.  Oh, and he is a guileless mouthpiece, without any semblance of self-awareness or discretion, and a terrible liar.  But you probably knew that already.

Rosen starts his tweet article by reporting Gary Bettman has not been to Sprint Center, which is something to keep in mind once all of the "Kansas City hockey fans need to show their support" articles start popping up around the time of the preseason game this fall.  Bettman doesn't care if KC hockey fans buy 80,000 tickets to the game and they have to move it to Arrowhead.  It's a preseason game, it doesn't matter.
Maybe we should invite him to see Sprint Center and have a nice dinner.

He then says this:
You can see where this is going, but here we go.  On April 24th (or around that time) Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, thus, the go-to guy on all matters NHL stated that his league, the one he runs, is not considering expansion or relocation.  By May 13th (or slightly earlier), Bettman and his posse were talking to city leaders and prospective owners in Seattle.  Three weeks after saying the league he runs, the NHL, was not considering expansion and/or relocation.  Three weeks later.  Three weeks.


So, not only is Gary Bettman a liar, but he feels it is necessary to not be honest with other cities about possible moves for the league.  Does he have any idea he is doing this?  Who the hell knows, but he's only doing what's best for, well, I would say the league, but who knows.  Three weeks ago he marched into Seattle with an interested ownership group and told the city to build a new arena – without any money from the NHL, mind you – because, well, because fuck you, that's why.  All he has to do is tell Jeff Rosen, "I haven't been to KC, we're not exactly looking at placing a team there, and expansion is a complicated issue right now."  That is literally all he has to say.

People can spend all day crapping on the NHL for their occasional archaic rules, or being a part of two lockouts in the past ten years, or head shots, or any numerous nit-picky things that eventually lead to progress and the evolution of the sport.  And Bettman will get the crap end of that, and its not necessarily deserved all the time, but he is the face of the whole damn organization of thirty other owners that constantly get badgered by the player's association about random inconveniences, but that's just part of the gig.  You see it in MLB, you see it the NFL, and you see it in the NBA.  Everyone hates the commissioner, the guy in charge, the rule czar, the authority that saps the fun out of a child's game.

Well, the commissioner's character seldom comes into question, but, Mr. Bettman, you are an insufferable dick.  You are an insufferable dick not for avoiding KC, but for being misleading and self-serving.  But you pretty much have to be to get anything done.  So oh well.

Rosen also reported this:
Which – shocker! – is also probably a lie, but we'll never know because no one will ever say anything about this perceived people or groups, or if they indeed exist (spoiler: they don't, or if they do, they don't have any money).

Ugh, Gary Bettman.  THE WORST.

Luckily, since we cannot take anything he says at face value, this is an encouraging development for a current NHL franchise relocating to Kansas City.  Let's welcome today's contestant: the Florida Panthers!

Hey, so that's not so good for them.  The Florida Panthers monetary issues are no secret, but this is an odd step in the restructuring of a business model.  Yes, they are cutting overhead, but at what cost to Panthers fans?  People in south Florida need to be aware that a team exists, and if you are going through another rebuild ripe with upcoming down years, firing a sales department does not go far to exposing citizens to the concept of professional hockey in southern Florida.  Who's going to call all of the young folks in Florida about this sport called hockey?!

So, it's a good thing that Kansas City has "several parties" interested in owning a hockey team at Sprint Center.  I, for one, welcome our new Panthers hockey organization.  But the name "Panthers" is no good for KC.  Might I suggest some other names.

(Update: pardon my French earlier. I have classed up the post a bit since the original.  The term "self-felating" no longer appears in reference to anyone or any particular commissioner.  Have a wonderful day).

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