As most of you are aware, Steve Ballmer is placing a bid on the Los Angeles Clippers. I have had some discussions in various social networks and “real world” conversations about it and figured I should jot something down. There are two schools of thought on the impact that a successful purchase of the Clippers will have on the return of the Sonics: 1) Hurts the bid to bring the NBA back to Seattle and 2) No impact to the SoDo Arena plans. To get the narrative on those two opinions, enter our two favorite journalists, Geoff Baker with the first perspective and Chris Daniels issuing the later point of view. One thing I would like to call out is that it is great to have two people covering this story with a somewhat different approach. I saw somewhat because they are not contradicting, they are just coming from two different angles, both of which can and are probably right. Both articles (and video) are worth reading but at a high level, Baker says that if Ballmer’s bid for the Clippers is successful, that investment gap will need to be filled. Meanwhile Daniel’s suggest that gap will not be too hard to fill.
The likely scenario is somewhere in the middle. There aren’t too many people in the world worth $20 Billion that can fill Ballmer’s shoes, actually there are only 35 of them in the world and only two that live in the Puget Sound. Obviously it is not a requirement to find someone worth $20 Billion but it was nice to have that kind of backstop behind you for the franchise. The bigger issue to me is what that says about the prospects of the Sonics returning to Seattle. Baring a failure of an Arena plan in Milwaukee, this implies we are probably over 4 years away from seeing the Sonics in Seattle. If the outlook was better, I think Ballmer would have waited. The positive of Ballmer becoming the owner of LA Clippers is he would have a vote on expansion and/or relocation of a team for Seattle. All that said, what I will miss most about the departure of Ballmer from the Sonics Ownership group is his local ties and civic leadership. The man was passionate about the Sonics before they left and would have loved to see him be involved in the team.
Wait….this isn’t NBAtoSeattle.
Damn…you got me. You are right, this is not NBAtoSeattle. We know the Seattle NBA Group has been driving the bus on this project for a while they have welcomed us hockey fans for the ride from the very beginning. The potential Ballmer departure from the project is probably a net neutral. I think the prospects of the NBA returning to Seattle only helps the NHLtoSeattle’s chances so if it is a slight negative for NBA, it is a slight negative for the NHL. Oh and we still have the issue of the MOU that will still need to be changed for an NHL first scenario. Which leads me to think of the positive spin on this scenario. The departure of Ballmer could open the door for an NHL friendly partner to fill the gap left by Ballmer that might help kick start the NHL first Arena process. Either way, I am supportive of all SonicsArena efforts and will continue to support them regardless if and when the NHL comes to Seattle in the process.