Sonics flee Seattle, while DC residents get to work on new stadium

February 7, 2008

Professional sports stadiums are a bad public investment, according to a

federal court brief filed

by the Seattle SuperSonics. Trying to get out of its KeyArena lease in order to move to Oklahoma City, the Sonics management is recanting its previous claims that the team’s presence provides immeasurable public benefits. The brief states:

“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.”

Jim Brunner, reporter for the Seattle Times, was the first to uncover this



Although the Sonics would like to simply pay off their 2010 lease and leave, Seattle is suing to require the team to play in the city for the remaining two years of the lease.

This battle hasn’t stopped the Sonics from asking Oklahoma City for massive subsidies. Voters there will decide in March whether to approve a $100 million tax package for stadium renovations. For more details on the Sonics departure, see Neil deMause’s blog,

Field of Schemes


In other stadium news…

Although Good Jobs First is critical of stadium giveaways, we recently spoke favorably at a press conference about the local-jobs outcomes of


project labor agreement

(PLA) for the construction of the Nationals stadium in Washington, D.C. The PLA – formed by the city, contractors, unions and community groups – sets aggressive goals for hiring city residents in both apprentice and journey-level positions.

While at least one firm associated with the anti-union Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) trade association has


a group attacking the PLA, the project has been a great success in parts of DC

that have struggled with high employment and too few economic opportunities. To date, 87 percent of all apprentices working on the project have been District residents, with wages ranging from $15 to $28 per hour.