The Return of the Sonics? Not so Fast My Friend

There is a lot of excitement in the air about the potential return of the Seattle SuperSonics. This new arena proposal looks like the savior to all of the basketball fans in the city of Seattle have been waiting for. It’s exciting because the fans can again root for their favorite basketball team again. Dads can again take their sons to basketball games and watch as a new generation of basketball stars develop; they get to watch current NBA superstars come into their hometown (or close to it). 
Basketball would return to Seattle. And, for the most part, it would be a welcome return for the franchise that brought Seattle its first (hockey fans would argue second) major pro sports title, the 1979 NBA Championship. It would allow this city to celebrate franchise greats, such as Garry “The Glove” Payton, Shawn Kemp, Gus Williams, Tom Chambers, and many others.  But to get this new arena, there needs to be a new franchise. And that is going to be the problem. 

Another city will have to lose their basketball franchise for Seattle to get the Sonics back. The two teams that are frequently brought up are the New Orleans Hornets and the Sacramento Kings. Both squads are in financial dire straits. The previous Hornets owner was forced to sell the team to the NBA; as for the Kings, their owners are in financial trouble as the changing landscape of NBA Player salaries, the smallest arena in the league and the recession combined to slowly destroy the financial stability of the Maloof Brothers (the King’s owners).
The owner of the Anaheim Ducks (NHL), Henry Samueli, offered to put $20 million worth of renovations to make the Honda Center a basketball friendly venue. The Maloof Brothers jumped at the chance, and put in paper work to relocate the Kings to Anaheim. However, that didn’t sit well with the NBA and the move was shot down. If the Kings had moved, they would have become the third NBA franchise in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.  
NBA Commissioner David Stern imposed a March 1st, 2012 deadline on the City of Sacramento and the Sacramento Kings to reach a financial deal for a new arena. And it seems like they have a patchwork arena finance deal in place. Plus the Maloof Brothers have repeatedly stated that the Kings are not up for sale. Therefore, it looks like the Kings are off the table (unless the arena financing deal falls apart).
The other franchise that could find its way up to the Emerald City is the New Orleans Hornets. The Hornets have an escape clause in their lease; this escape clause is that if attendance falls below an average of 14,735 for two years, then the team can wiggle out of its lease early and relocate. Average attendance at the Hornet’s home games was well below that mark last season, and it looks like they will be below that mark again this season.
A Typical Hornets Home game
And when you add in the fact that the NBA currently owns the financially troubled club, it doesn’t look good for the City of New Orleans. That is until David Stern recently came out and said that the league was near a deal for selling the Hornets to a buyer. This buyer promises to keep the team in New Orleans (even with the lagging attendance). Stern also came out and said that he had another buyer “awaiting future events”. Also, the NHL has a buyer, who promises to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix, lined up.
These developments, while frustrating, can be beneficial to the City of Seattle. If the NBA and NHL franchise had immediately been purchased and brought up here, the city would have had to rush its study of the arena proposal. They can make sure the proposal and the finances are rock solid, and that the city won’t get screwed over like it did during the Key Arena reconstruction.  As Dow Constantine put it during the press conference; “This is not Game 7. This is the tipoff of the first game of the preseason. This is a set of principles. This is a start.”

A Few Rambling Thoughts While I Wait At Beasley Coliseum

This game will probably be the largest crowd that the WSU Men’s basketball team will play infront of all season. The students will be wild and amped, especially after some of them spent all night camping in the rain and then the snow. It’s a rivalry game with our biggest rival. And I for one can’t wait.

This game is the biggest game these guys will have played and will he the biggest game I have seen in person since Jackson played in the State Final my junior year. The guys need to come out energized, and as excited as the students will be. They need to overcome Romars technical from the last game.
Oh look they brought us pizza, thats awesome.

Count Down to Opening Day

#4) Fantasy Baseball and Spilled Beer, April 2nd, 2007

The 2007 season was a rather exciting for me. I was entering my inaugural fantasy baseball season and I had drafted six Mariners for my roster and I was rearing to go. The Mariners looked to be a better squad this season as their pitching looked to rebound after a disappointing 2006 season. As the days ticked away until April 2nd, 2007, I barely managed to stay focused on everything else going on in the world.

My family and I arrived at Safeco Field a few hours before the game started; we wandered over to the ballpark and claimed our seats. We were sitting on the 100 level just to the left of the left field foul pole. For some reason (I still can’t figure out how or why) the guy sitting behind me and I started talking about fantasy baseball. As the game moved on, so did our discussion about our fantasy baseball rosters. He thought it was awesome that I drafted so many M’s for my fantasy baseball team. 
Going into the middle innings the game was tied 0-0, and was shaping up to be a good one. That is until Athletic Short Stop Bobby Crosby booted the ball and allowed for the Mariners to put two men on. Richie Sexson (one of the six Mariners on my roster) came to the plate, and absolutely crushed the ball to deep right center field. Later in the inning, Crosby made another error allowing another runner to score. Felix Hernandez would go eight strong innings (with 12 Ks) to get the victory. Fan favorite closer J.J Putz would get the save.
You are probably thinking; he talked about the fantasy baseball, what does spilled beer have to do with this story? Or you may not be wondering about the spilled beer and stopped reading this story. The guy who was sitting behind me may or may not have been a little drunk by the sixth inning. And I may or may not have told him about the fact that Richie Sexson was on my fantasy baseball squad. And he may or may not have spilled his entire beer on me when celebrating Richie Sexson’s home run. All and all, a good day at the ballpark.

The Not So Suprising Arena Press Conference

Hansen owns the land in the box
Yesterday’s press conference with Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine went exactly as expected. They talked about how excited they were to have a workable arena proposal in front of them, and that it wouldn’t involve new taxes. For one, their main talking points were about how this deal doesn’t happen until teams (NBA and NHL) are acquired. We’ll take a look at the proposed financing of the new arena, after the jump.

According to Mayor Mike McGinn the new arena will cost somewhere in the area of $450-500 million. McGinn also stated that Hansen and his group were willing to put forward $290 million for funding the arena, according to Constantine that would make this arena the third highest private investment in NBA Arena history (Hansen and his group will also pay for cost overruns, they will also make up any shortfalls in the arena’s operation).  The rest of the arena would be paid for by bonds floated out by the City of Seattle and King County. These bonds would be paid back by taxes on the arena, admission and land taxes placed on the arena. 
Another important factor that McGinn and Constantine hit on was that not a single cent of public funds (the bonds) will be placed towards the arena until Hansen and his group put their money towards the arena down. And Hansen won’t put money towards an arena until he has a team. However, let’s be honest here, there is almost no way this entire process has gone this far without Hansen feeling pretty sure that he can acquire a team. I have a feeling that the teams are all we are waiting on. 
In my previous article, I pointed out that the League owned Phoenix Coyotes (formerly the Winnipeg Jets) are the NHL team that have been listed as a team that could find their way up to Seattle if this arena deal goes through. The NHL has expressed interest in Seattle in the past. And why wouldn’t the NHL want to return to the first American City to win the Stanley Cup (the 1917 Seattle Metropolitans beat the Montreal Canadians)? 
As for the NBA the situation is a little less clear. The Sacramento Kings (formerly Rochester Seagrams, Cincinnati Royals, and Kansas City Royals) have been located in Sacramento for 27 years. Their owners are losing money and the team is in need of another arena. NBA Commissioner David Stern has placed a March 1st deadline for the city to come up with a way to fund a new arena. The other possible team that could come up to Seattle is the financially struggling (and league owned) New Orleans Hornets (formerly the Charlotte Hornets).
McGinn said he wasn’t in the prediction business and he wouldn’t speculate on who could become the new Sonics. Constantine and McGinn sounded really excited about this new arena possibility. And they should be. This is a historic opportunity for the City of Seattle to right a wrong that was wrought upon them by Clay Bennett and his goon David Stern. However, this opportunity to right that wrong WILL wrong another city, another fan base. And will embitter more sports fans for generations to come.

Here is a Q&A with the Mayors office on the Arena Proposal 

*This Post was written shortly after the news broke in February; for the most recent blog post about the SODO Arena please read this post

Weekend Review

This weekend was busy and filled with controversy. On Saturday night, a new Cruiserweight (200 Ibs.) champion was crowned as Yoan Hernandez (26-1 13 KO) defeated Steve Cunningham (24-4 12 KO) by unanimous decision in their rematch. The scorecards read as 116-110, 116-110, and 115-111. However, these scorecards do not reflect the actual fight as Cunningham was able to battle back after a 4th round where he got knocked down twice and was obviously seriously hurt. Most people who witnessed the fight thought it was extremely close. The fight itself was entertaining, with the highlight being the 4th round. Hernandez caught Cunningham with a short left hand that had him wobbly. Cunningham went down again from a flurry by Hernandez. But, the Philadelphia native fighter was able to outwork Hernandez during the later rounds. Cunningham was gracious in defeat though.

On the same night, Nonito Donaire (28-1 18 KO) won another belt as he battled Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. (21-2-1 17 KO) for the WBO super bantamweight (122 Ibs.) title. Vazquez was able to put up a better challenge than most people expected but ultimately Donaire’s athleticism, speed, and power were able to answer to Vazquez’s challenge. The fight started cautiously and both fighters tried to pick their spots. Donaire’s timing was better than Vazquez and in the middle rounds he began to drop his hands to try to get Vazquez to exchange with him. Vazquez responded somewhat as he began to land his jab with a certain degree of frequency. He wasn’t able to follow the jab up with any power punches however, and Donaire knocked him down in the 9thround. Although Donaire controlled virtually the entire fight, he won a split-decision. The judge who scored for Vazquez had him winning 115-112. The other two judges had Donaire winning 117-110. It was later revealed that Donaire had ruptured a vein in his left hand.

In the middleweight division (160 Ibs.) Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (45-0-1 31 KO) defended his WBC title by fighting and defeating Marco Antonio Rubio (53-6-1 47 KO) by unanimous decision. For the majority of the fight, Rubio was overwhelmed by the pure size of Chavez, who weighed in about 10 pounds heavier than Rubio. Chavez bullied Rubio around the ring, landing nice body shots and straight right hands whenever he let his hands go. Rubio tried to play with this by punching back with him, but his punches never seemed to hurt Chavez.

Other news: Abner Mares (23-0-1 13 KO) has vacated his IBF bantamweight belt to pursue a fight with Eric Morel (46-2 32 KO)

What Could Possibly be Wrong with the Latest Arena News From Seattle? A Lot More Then You Think

Could a new sports palace be built here?

As you have undoubtedly heard, there are plans that are currently being looked at for a new arena in Seattle. The Seattle Times obtained several emails and documents due to a public disclosure request. These documents show that a 44-year old San Francisco businessman (and Seattle native) Christopher Hansen is working with city officials to finance a new arena in the South Downtown (SoDo) District.  This new arena would house a NBA and NHL team; the Sacramento Kings (NBA) and Phoenix Coyotes (NHL) are listed as two possible tenants of the new building. 
The major reason the original Sonics couldn’t get an arena deal done in Seattle was because the City didn’t want to foot the bill for another pro sports stadium. According to the Seattle Times, Hansen says he can foot most of the cost for construction of the new building; “In an initial email laying out his vision, Hansen told city officials an arena could be built with minimal impact on taxpayers.”(Thompson, Miletich, 2012) Obviously this is fantastic news for fans of the NBA and the NHL in the City of Seattle. However, I find a couple of things to be very rotten with this whole deal, and I will explain after the jump. 

The first thing I find rotten is the possibility of doing to Sacramento what Clay Bennett did to us. After all the Kings have been in Sacramento for 27 years, and have developed a loyal fan base down there. I understand that a lot of people in Seattle really want another NBA team, but is it worth it to do it to a city that is in the exact same situation as we were in 2008 (smallest building in the league and an ownership group that appears to have  their feet half way out the door)? I honestly don’t think it is, screwing over another loyal fan base just to fill our burning desire is just wrong. After all two wrongs don’t make it right. 
As for the Coyotes, despite having a relatively new building (it opened in 2003), are financially struggling. The NHL owns the team and is actively looking for a local business man to step up and by the team. So far no luck, and the league is considering opening up the bidding process for the Coyotes (who used to play in Winnipeg, when they were known as the Jets). 
The other thing I find rotten in this deal is how screwed over the Seattle Center will become. The Sonics were the main draw to the Seattle Center during the winter and once they departed, business in the area went into a precipitous decline.  Can you imagine what is going to happen if another arena opens in Seattle and begins to steal what little business the Key Arena has now? I have a feeling it won’t be very good for the City. 
Look, I miss the Sonics. I miss having an NBA team we can call our own. But is it really worth taking an NBA team from a city that already support them?

Super Bowl XLVI Preview

“The Catch”
Well, here we are again. Tom Brady and the Patriots take on Eli Manning and the Giants. Their 2008 match-up was probably one of the most exciting match-ups in Super Bowl history. And we may get to relive it. The 2012 Super Bowl is lining up just like the one back in 2008. In ’08 the Giants Defensive lineman dominated the Patriots offensive lineman, and they constantly harassed Patriots’ QB Tom Brady; while Eli Manning picked apart the Patriots secondary. The question is, what Giants wideout will come up with a miracle catch to continue the game winning drive? 

Enough about the last time these two teams matched up in the NFL Championship game. Let’s take a look at my two big factors in this game:
Eli Manning and Victor Cruz vs. The Patriots Secondary:
Eli Manning had a solid year as he threw for 4,933 yards with 29 touchdowns and 16 picks (a Passer Rating of 92.9). The younger Manning also spent a lot of time lying on the turf this year, as he was sacked 28 times. His play also received a boost from a very solid group of youngwide receivers led by the explosive Victor Cruz. Cruz was go-to guy when the Giants needed a big play, his nine TDs and 1,536 yards are the most of any Giants wideout. 
The Patriots defensive secondary was their defensive “strength”. If you could call 317.8 yards a game a team’s strength. Despite the ridiculously high number of yards, that was the second fewest yards allowed per game by any team in the NFL. Since the Patriots can’t stop the run (110.2 yards a game, good for 20th in the league), they are going to have to force Eli Manning into throwing into tight windows. 
If the Patriots give the Giant’s wide receivers space and time, they are screwed. Manning will sit in the pocket and pick them apart. If the Patriots secondary covers the wide receivers well, and force Manning into throw it into tight windows. Then the Patriots can get interceptions and this game becomes really easy for Tom Brady and their offense. 
Tom Brady vs. The Giants D-line
Last time these two teams met in the Super Bowl, Brady spent a lot of time on the move and the turf. The Giants D-line is going to need to do the same thing on Sunday. They need to harass Brady and force him to make stupid decisions under pressure. Fortunately for the Giants, they have been getting to the opposing team’s QB a lot, during the 2011 season (they had 48 sacks). 
Tom Brady needs to be able to stay upright and mobile. He also needs to get the ball off. Brady cannot afford to be hit as much as he during the regular season (he was sacked 32 times!). If Brady cannot stay mobile, the Giants will have a huge advantage. The defense can disrupt the offensive flow of the Patriots, getting the ball to Eli and his receivers. 
The Predictions:
Neil’s prediction: Having pretty much avoided the hype leading up to the Super Bowl, I mainly have to make this prediction based off of my memories of the regular season and my above key points. I believe that the Giants D-line gets to Brady and gets to him a lot. Brady gets sacked three times and throws two picks. While Manning has a rough start but gets on track after a long TD pass to Hakeem Nicks. 35-31 and Eli earns one more ring than his brother Payton.
Victor prediction: Since I care about neither team, my prediction is quite unbiased. I think the Giants will be able to put pressure on Tom Brady and cause Brady to throw ineffective passes. Eli Manning will have some troubles but ultimately, he’ll play a better game than Brady and the Giants will prevail. I give no official score because I don’t feel like it.

Berto vs. Ortiz II Cancellation Can Only Hurt Boxing

            The cancellation of the Andre Berto(28-1 22 KO) and Victor Oritz (29-3-2 22 KO) II bout was announced yesterday by network officials and promoters Golden Boy Promotions and Lou DiBella Entertainment. Berto ruptured his left bicep during training and will most likely require surgery to repair it. Am I the only one seeing a pattern here? It seems that at least recently, big-name fights have for the most part disappointed the audience and the boxing community as a whole, while lesser-known fighters who struggle to gain publicity put on tremendous and dramatic fights. Think of Mayweather vs. Ortiz and Hernan Marquez vs. Luis Concepcion. There is no comparison. Yet, the Mayweather vs. Ortiz bout received huge publicity simply because Mayweather is considered a star. Now clearly, Berto vs. Ortiz II cannot compete with Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao but the fight did receive a good amount of publicity and was highly anticipated by boxing fans. And now it’s not going to happen, at least not for the date we anticipated. Things like this leave a sour taste on boxing fans and keep away potential fans. It is a shame because this was an extremely important fight for both fighters. Both fighters were trying to redeem themselves from humiliating and humbling experiences. Even though Berto beat Jan Zavek in his last fight, most people ignore that fight and remember how dazed and confused he seemed the first time he met with Victor Ortiz. Virtually everyone recalls the embarrassment of Ortiz’s naïve outing against Mayweather, regardless of whether you think it was a sucker punch or not. This rematch was supposed to answer the questions we had for both fighters. It seems we’re going to have to wait.

            As of this publication, Ortiz has no opponent. However, rumors are circulating around the World Wide Web (great source) that Amir Khan (26-2 18 KO) could be a possible opponent. If this bout were to happen, one could assume that Khan would have to move up to welterweight and give up his plans for an immediate rematch with Lamont Peterson.