Quick thoughts on Ballmer’s pursuit of the Clippers

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 networksbllmnba9087 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.

My take

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.

4 thoughts on “Quick thoughts on Ballmer’s pursuit of the Clippers

  1. I am supportive of getting an NBA team only to the degree that it enables the NHL coming to Seattle. I think the possible loss of Ballmer reflects the reality of getting an NBA expansion or relocation team any time soon is diminishing. The loss of Ballmer also may force the hand of the city council on the MOU. The King County Council wants an NHL team somewhere in King County. The NHL wants to be in Seattle, there are multiple well financed parties wanting to own the team. I think it is a matter of time before something breaks one way or the other on the SoDo arena and a new home for the NHL.

  2. Are we just ignoring that Bettman met with the Mayor (who’s primary backers in getting elected were against the stadium), and Murray suggested the NHL use the Key? This is a kind way of saying fuck you to Seattle.

    All Ballmer (and Hansen for that matter) have done is drive up the cost of ALL sports franchises, but specifically NBA franchises. This move actually strengthens the NHL’s position in Bellevue, which is more likely with every relevant, legitimate story that has surfaced. The NHL is ready to move here, if we have some people that are serious about addressing the stadium issue. Hansen’s group never was, that should seem obvious now, that one of the major players jumped ship.

  3. Personally, although it isn’t Seattle, Spokane would be the perfect spot for an NHL team. They have Spokane arena already set up for the Chiefs which have a good attendance record. The NHL has two teams, Vancouver and Calgary, close enough to bring in attendance and suggested rivals. Its close enough to Seattle and Portland to bring in die hard hockey fans, as well as fans from surrounding states with no NHL team. Just my two cents especially since Seattle’s biggest problem is an arena.

    • James, Spokane is a good hockey town, but Spokane Arena only seats 10,500 for hockey. The arena even if maximized to about 12,500 seats is not nearly large enough for the NHL and the population would be the smallest area for a team with about half the population of the next smallest market in Winnipeg.

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