Monday, January 21, 2008

The jig is up

A rather unlikely source is claiming the sports teams contribute little to cities' economies:

If the Sonics leave Seattle, the city's economy won't suffer and most people won't care.

That's not the tirade of some anti-arena activist; it's the Sonics' latest legal argument to try to get out of its KeyArena lease.

And it's exactly the opposite of what the Sonics have claimed when asking for taxpayer help to build a new arena.

The team made the argument in papers filed in U.S. District Court this week, seeking mediation or a speedy trial to allow the team to abandon city-owned KeyArena before 2010. In the documents, Sonics' attorneys dispute the city's contention that the team's departure would have a broad and hard-to-quantify impact.

"The financial issue is simple, and the city's analysts agree, there will be no net economic loss if the Sonics leave Seattle. Entertainment dollars not spent on the Sonics will be spent on Seattle's many other sports and entertainment options. Seattleites will not reduce their entertainment budget simply because the Sonics leave," the Sonics said in the court brief.

The Sonics also said they would produce a survey showing that 66 percent of Seattleites say the team's exit would make "no difference" in their lives, while only 12 percent said they'd be "much worse off."

Well, well, well. (Hat tip to The Sports Economist.)

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