Public financing sports

Steve Ballmer is poised to reduce his net worth by 10 percent. Subject to NBA team owners’ approval, his bid to own the Los Angeles Clippers will set him back $2 billion. He’ll then be forced to live on only $18 billion. For shame.

Seattleites wonder aloud if Ballmer’s purchase jeopardizes a return of the NBA to their fair city. Principal advocate for the move, Chris Hansen, assures his followers that he’s still keen on his obsession, including the final steps in the permitting process for a new arena just south of Safeco Field, where the Mariners display their mediocrity (though I keep my fingers crossed).

And speaking of arenas, the Seattle Times‘ Danny Westneat offers an interesting perspective. Hansen and his group, which used to include Ballmer, profess that their project cannot possibly be realized without hefty public financing. Westneat quotes from the group’s website:

Given the significant financial risks the investor group is shouldering and the amount of equity financing required for the team and Arena (well over $300 million), the investor group believes that the public contribution requested is required to make the project financially viable.

Westneat calls this “baloney.” Consider:

For the amount Ballmer just paid for the Clippers, he could have built a new Sodo basketball arena all by himself, plus built the Safeco Field baseball stadium, plus built the CenturyLink football stadium and still had more than $600 million left over for buying a team.

If the plutocrats wish to play, then they, and they alone, should pay—so says I.

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