Last night, the Seahawks pulled out an amazing victory behind a near perfect game from Russell Wilson. Before the game, the Seahawks put the man who saved football in Seattle (ironically, from moving to the city their opponents now reside in) into the Ring of Honor and his family raised the 12th Man Flag in front of 70,000 teary-eyed fans. There are only a handful of people in the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor (Allen was, appropriately, the 12th inductee) and all of them are deserving. For Paul Allen, though, including him there doesn’t seem to be enough. The trucks were literally packed and moving the Seahawks to Los Angeles before Allen stepped in got CenturyLink Field (nee Seahawks Stadium) built and purchased the team. Behind his vision and leadership, the Seahawks won a Super Bowl. He’s responsible for getting in greats like Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander, Walter Jones, Lofa Tatupu, Bobby Engram, Doug Baldwin, Marshawn Lynch, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Tyler Lockett, and so many others. Adding Paul Allen to the Ring of Honor isn’t enough. It really isn’t. Neither is doing something along the lines of naming the field after him. Paul Allen Field at CenturyLink Field doesn’t really work, now does it? No, it should be Paul G. Allen Stadium. Sadly, this won’t ever happen. Before the season started Century Link upped their naming rights deal to extend through the 2033 season and is paying over $163 million during that time. Allen’s estate could easily buy that out, but we all know that will not happen. Paul Allen should be properly immortalized. The stadium that should bear his name, as the Super Bowl winning team that packs it through the fall and winter months would not exist if not for him. Let’s honor the man properly. Let’s name the stadium after him and put a statue of him up by the 12th Man Flag pole.
- Editors' PicksOpinionPortland Timbers
After a deeply disappointing home loss to D.C. United, the Portland Timbers (13-4D-12, 43 pts, 7th in West) head into the home stretch of the season. Despite constant belief that “games in hand” and “home field advantage” will automatically launch Portland into a decent playoff spot, the Timbers ended Sunday night in 7th place. Again. While Portland still does have that game in hand and four out of five remaining matches at Providence Park, this team is still largely facing the same questions it has all year. Despite relative success in the U.S. Open Cup, Portland have failed to put together three consecutive MLS wins since last school year (remember that weird pocket of victories in Columbus, Toronto, and Salt Lake?). Heading into a midweek match against the usually-formidable New York Red Bulls (12-5D-13, 41 pts, 6th in East), Portland need more than a win—they need a convincing one. New York is having an off year by their standards, coming off three straight losses and the Timbers will likely have their starting lineup back in the attacking half. This will be the second match of five in fifteen days for the Timbers, but defender Jorge Villafaña didn’t seem too concerned about if affecting them on the field: “It’s all out. You can’t save anything [when on the field]. Having matches every three or four days…we like it, and we just try to do everything possible to be ready for the games.” The biggest tactical flaw in Portland’s offensive system has been in the Timbers’ inability to break down defenses…do I sound like a broken record yet? While this issue was on full display against D.C. in Sunday’s loss, it was without key starters Sebastián Blanco and Brian Fernández. As Diego Valeri reminded us postgame, “we did it last week,” referring to the game-winning goal against Sporting Kansas City in which all 11 of the opposition’s players began behind the ball. FiveThirtyEight’s MLS Playoff projections for the Timbers have decreased a couple percentage points since the last time I wrote about them, and the most likely playoff spot is one that would require a midweek road win to advance. Sitting back and counterattacking has treated Portland well in the past, especially in the playoffs, but with the embarrassment of attacking riches, it would be much more satisfying on the ol’ blood pressure to see some better crosses to green shirts in the box. Any squad with the three aforementioned players should have the ability to score consistently, especially when key links such as Diego Chará, Jorge Moreira, and others are in the mix. That’s at least four or five starting-caliber MLS players on almost any squad in the league. Savarese knows they’re capable, and so do they. So do the fans, analysts, and writers alike. The Timbers have the tools to get it done, but the critical touch, pass, or finish is often lacking—which is why this season has become so frustrating. We all promised ourselves things would get better. Excuses were made, and convincing results are still yet to come. While the on-field product has been a mixed bag to say the least, many Timbers supporters are dealing with a much larger issue—one that has nothing to do with goals, standings, or tactics. Those who know of the Iron Front saga are concerned. Those who have been affected are enraged, and you may be as well, upon further examination. (I will not be recapping said saga in this article, but you can find great reads on it here and here. I also encourage you to do your own research or ask any seasoned Timbers Army supporter; most will be more than happy to explain.) The Timbers front office has effectively boxed itself into a catch-22: abiding by MLS’s controversial Fan Code of Conduct has clearly not fared well, and making the TA happy will likely beckon a (previously nonexistent) backlash of conflict from the other end of the political spectrum, which has already begun. For many, this season will be overshadowed by a newfound distrust in upper management, regardless of what transpires on the pitch. We all promised ourselves things would get better. Excuses were made, and convincing results are still yet to come. The story of this season is yet to be determined, and the ending might not be all sunshine and roses. The Timbers could realistically tumble out of the playoffs in the early rounds, or even miss them altogether. The ongoing talks between scarves and suits could also go nowhere, potentially leaving core supporters with a personal choice between the team they love and the beliefs they hold. These are worst-case scenarios, of course, but are nonetheless hypotheticals that need to be taken seriously. So what would the best-case scenario be? First off, it would be fantastic for the Timbers to win, and then win some more, and then win a whole lot more—f*ck it, maybe even win a trophy. No matter what happens in the stands, on Twitter, or in conference rooms, winning will always be better. Even if no common ground is reached by MLS and its supporters, a Portland playoff run would only give more exposure to the Iron Front issue, and probably the symbol itself. As far as an agreement of the Iron Front issue, I’m honestly not certain as to what an ideal result would be at this point. To those heavily invested in the dispute, the front office has done irreversible damage. Timbers Owner Merritt Paulson has already rubbed the Timbers Army the wrong way by siding with MLS, and some in dissent have even gone so far as to cancel season ticket renewals. The best course of action would seemingly be to remove the word “political” from the MLS Fan Code of Conduct, but as mentioned earlier, I fear this may create an even more violent conflict between right and left, one that has escalated considerably over the past few years in this country. No matter how much the Timbers front office foreseeably apologizes, removes the ban, or kisses the feet of the Timbers Army, everyone will have known the course of action they took. They made a clear decision to obey Major League Soccer over the will of its most devoted fans, a choice that comes with consequences, some of which they are surely yet to face. Major League Soccer is always desperate for attention. If you’re an American soccer fan, you know this. You have sat through countless promotions, commercials, and advertisements for anyone willing to front the bill. One in particular, Audi, uses the motto “Goals Drive Progress” to fund MLS academies. They use it in Golden Boot graphics, goal highlights, and Taylor Twellman even wrote an article about it. All that is great, and is necessary to build a strong league, but the hypocrisy presented here is laughable—MLS’s recent goals have silenced supporters, certainly not driving progress. In order to score goals, a team must consistently create chances—the Timbers in particular need to take charge of possession, progress the ball, and be proactive. Complacency can be useful in certain settings, and it can lead to goals when provoked, but absorbing pressure can only work for so long. Creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking are of the utmost importance. If Savarese’s men can make this happen on the field, one can only hope that they will lead by example for our friends in the front office.
Welcome, Duck fans and haters alike. It’s that time of year again—that sinking feeling of a title feeling slipping away is setting in already. Throughout my two decades on Earth, this fan base has been brought to the ultimate brink of success and dragged back through the mud. We have seen Heisman finalists, injuries, and championship appearances drift in and out, building one of the biggest national brands in collegiate sports along the way. This list serves not as a tear-jerk, but as a badge of self-loathing. Relive the worst of the worst now before it happens again. It is a place to gather all your most hideous fears and release them. So have a stress ball, Kleenex, or whatever else you might need—just not YouTube. Don’t do it. And remember: no matter how sad you get, at least we’ve never gone 0-12. Finally, before we begin, a clarification: I was born at the turn of the century. I grew up studying the 1994 and 2001 season highlight tapes religiously. This list will not cover those. Yes, the Stanford loss in 2001 was during my lifetime and kept us out of a natty, but I’m not gonna act like I remember it. This might as well be titled “Most Painful Losses Since 2005 or so.” Go figure. These are the games that make you want to dig a hole and hide in it; the ones that make you cringe when remembered; the ones that you thought you could bury forever. You know the feeling—you likely felt it last Saturday. So, without further ado… Honorable Mentions: Stanford 2013, Rose Bowl 2009-10, UW 2016, Civil War 2016, Cal 2007 10. Arizona 2013: The Surprise Collapse The 2013 Ducks were coming off a tough 26-20 Thursday night loss to Stanford on the Farm two weeks prior, and the 9-1 record meant we still had a shot to make the Rose Bowl, even if the National Championship was out of reach. A convincing win against Utah the week before made this shellacking in the desert even more of a shock—the Wildcats came storming out of the gate behind KaDeem Carey’s 206 yards and 4 TDs. The Ducks trailed 28-9 at half and mustered only a touchdown for the rest of the game. This loss was crushing, as it demoted us from #5 at the time to an Alamo Bowl appearance (following a classic Civil War battle, might I add). Silver lining: at least we actually won the Alamo Bowl that year. 9. Civil War 2007: The (Original) Missed Field Goal Spoiler: this is the only Civil War on the list. The little brother in Corvallis rarely gives us much trouble these days, but the first decade of the 2000s was when the rivalry was at its best. The 7-4 Beavers and 8-3 Ducks took very different paths to get to the 2007 Civil War. Mike Riley‘s team started 2-3 before winning six of their last seven coming into Autzen. The 2007 Ducks, well… more on that later. With the score tied, Walter Thurmond III blocked a Beaver field goal with a minute to go, setting up what should have been a game-winning drive for… *checks notes* Justin Roper & Co. The Ducks missed a 53-yard FG with 26 seconds left, but a leaping call gave the Ducks another shot after the 15-yard penalty. Without spiking the ball, the field goal unit rushed on and Matt Evensen missed a 40-yarder as regulation expired. In double overtime, James Rodgers broke a tackle in the backfield and scored a fly sweep touchdown, while Jonathan Stewart was stopped short on 4th and nothing. The Ducks went onto crush a ranked South Florida in the Sun Bowl, but even Beaver fans will admit the Ducks blew the Civil War that year. Silver lining: we won two of the most important Civil Wars ever in the next two years, and have only lost to the Beavers once since this game. 8. Alamo Bowl 2015: The Bad Snaps Oregon’s 2015 season was full of mistakes, mostly surrounding the quarterback situation with Vernon Adams in and out of good health. Despite close losses to Michigan State and Wazzu and a home blowout to Utah, Oregon ended the regular season with six straight wins and had a good chance to earn an eighth-straight 10-win season. A really, really good chance. The Ducks took a 31-0 lead into halftime of the Alamo Bowl, but they knew trouble was afoot as soon as Adams went down with a concussion in the second quarter, along with starting center Matt Hegarty. The Oregon offense scored zero points in the second half, and the backups could barely complete a snap. TCU clawed their way into overtime before stuffing the Ducks in 3OT, as I helplessly tried to explain how dismal American football was to my Costa Rican exchange student. Silver lining: the Timbers won MLS Cup a few weeks before and this was the beginning of the end for Helfrich. 7. Auburn 2019: The Bo Nix Game Our most recent high-profile choke-job was in yet another national spotlight, with a chance to avenge the 2010-11 BCS National Championship Game loss in the only ranked matchup of Week 1. The rest of the season will determine the true significance of this game, but we will be haunted by a dropped touchdown, a missed chip shot, and conservative play calling, among many other things. In all, the Ducks made only three touchdowns out of five trips to the red zone, and were ultimately defeated by an imperfect throw from a true freshman quarterback. Silver lining: TBD 6. Stanford 2012: The Missed Block The 2012 Ducks were special. Marcus Mariota’s freshman season started with a 10-0 record, demolishing every opponent along the way and averaging 55 points per game. The only thing that stood between the BCS #2 Ducks and a shot at Bama in the National Championship was, well, nothing. Mariota was streaking down the right hand side, with only empty turf in front of him, ready to seal the game with a flawless touchdown run. He even had De’Anthony Thomas as a blocker. But Thomas failed to see a Stanford DB come up from behind, shoving Mariota out of bounds and capping the run at 77 yards. Mistakes and missed field goals ensued, and the Cardinal kicked a very Stanford-like 37-yard field goal to win by three in overtime. This was the only game where I saw most people leaving the stadium in tears. Everyone except fate knew which team should have won the game. Said Chip Kelly: “You’d love to have some words that could kind of take the pain out of it. But there aren’t any.” Ditto. Silver lining: The Ducks went onto win the Fiesta Bowl in Chip’s last game at Oregon. 5. USC 2011: The Incomplete Comeback After a Week 1 loss to LSU, Chip Kelly’s Ducks rattled off nine straight wins and beat Andrew Luck and #3 Stanford on the Farm. Only a bowl-banned USC, Civil War, and Pac-12 Championship Game were blocking another run at the title. The Ducks were #4, boasting 21 straight home wins and 19 straight conference wins. Moreover, an upset loss for #3 Oklahoma State during the week meant the BCS door was wide open for Oregon. Those dreams seemed quickly crushed against USC. The Trojans held a 38-10 lead with 3:28 left on the clock in the 3rd quarter, but the Ducks responded instantly. Freshman DAT took a kickoff return to the house on a fake reverse, and by the middle of the fourth quarter the Ducks had pulled within three. They stayed within three, drove down the field, and set up for a game-tying field goal from Alejandro Maldonado. They were still within three when the field goal sailed wide left. Also, LeBron was there. Silver lining: A Rose Bowl win later sealed a successful season, but we are left knowing it could have been so much more. 4. Arizona 2007: The Downfall of Dennis First-grade Me fully understood the implications of this game. On that fateful November Thursday, I had reminded all my friends at school that the Ducks had just beaten two top-10 teams, that Dennis Dixon was one of the best players in the country, and that the Ducks were 8-1 with a #2 ranking. Dixon had been injured the week before against ASU, but he sprinted for a 39-yard touchdown to open the game against Arizona. Later in the quarter, though, Dixon tore his ACL. The Ducks stayed in the game despite a pick six, punt return, and wacky fake-punt-pseudo-fumble not going their way, and cut the lead to seven in the fourth quarter. But it wasn’t enough, and things only got worse until the Sun Bowl. 2007 remains a mysterious season; the hypotheticals of an uninjured Dixon haunt Duck fans, and Oregon was pushed to the national wayside before they could complete a full week at #2. Silver lining: Oregon captured revenge in the desert two years later by beating Arizona in a game that would have sent them to the Rose Bowl. They have still never been. 3. Stanford 2018: The GameDay Meltdown Visualize your textbook opening to your first weekend of college. You get to the dorms, become instant friends with your roommates, and gear up for the big game. What’s more, your school’s football team has a special quarterback, vastly improved defense, and a top-10 division rival is coming to town. By the way, ESPN’s College GameDay is on campus and your sign gets on TV. By the way, the scoreboard reads 30-7 with your team leading late in the third quarter. What could go wrong, you ask? Everything. Everything went wrong. A touchdown run that hit the inside of the pylon was overturned, and the stalled drive resulted in six points the other way. From there, the Ducks gave up pass after pass to Standord’s JJ Arcega-Whiteside, and the lead kept snipping down. Still, the Ducks controlled the ball and the game with less than a minute to go in the fourth, and kneeling the ball would have likely put the game away. Instead, Oregon pushed for a first down, and a fumble set up Stanford’s game-tying field goal. The Cardinal stuck to their guns in overtime, and I was left questioning my own sanity. Silver lining: rushing the field a few weeks later after beating the Huskies. 2. Natty 2014-15: The Zeke Game This was the year. This was the year to win the National Title. This was the year of the Heisman quarterback, the signature non-conference win, and the second chance. It was the year of the first College Football Playoff win—ever. It was the year that we dethroned Jameis and the Seminoles. But no. Ezekiel Elliott‘s four touchdowns buried Oregon’s hopes in the fourth quarter after cutting the lead to one in the third. Despite the final score, the Ducks definitely had chances to win this game: dropped passes, a Buckeye goal line stand, and the failure to capitalize on four Ohio State turnovers marked the end of a 13-win season for the Ducks, the most in school history. While it definitely wasn’t as close as the final game on this list, it was a blown opportunity at the highest level. Two seasons later, Mark Helfrich was fired and the Ducks were out of bowl contention. Silver lining: at least we don’t live in Ohio. 1. Natty 2010-11: Dyer was Down That’s all I really have to say. Both teams made heaps of mistakes, and the Ducks did everything they could to tie the game down the stretch. The miraculous was within reach, as long as our defense made one last stop. On a routine tackle, Michael Dyer slipped away from Eddie Pleasant and set up the game-winning field goal. Many people claim to have an enlightened view when discussing this play, but the bottom line is that it was simply unlucky. Pleasant, Dyer, and almost everyone else thought Dyer was down. I will not be pulling out the rulebook here, but I encourage you to do your own research on this one. In the end, a storybook ending to a perfect season popped up, paused, and sprinted down the sideline, an inch from becoming reality. Some day it may be. But for now, we persevere, and keep marching onto the next play, next game, next season. Such is the life of an Oregon Ducks football fan.
- Editors' PicksNHL SeattleOpinionSeattle StormSeattle SuperSonics
“What in the world did the city agree to with the new arena?” Okay, that’s not a specific quote, but among various basketball and even hockey fans in Seattle, it’s not an uncommon sentiment. All the passion and fire from campaigning to get the city to sign off on a new building to lasso NBA and NHL clubs wanes a fair bit when nose-deep in the hundreds of pages of documents that do so. Confusion abounds around the particulars of the city’s agreement with Oak View Group and Seattle Hockey Partners (“NHL Seattle”). This, unsurprisingly, makes for strained and inconsistent conversation. It was evident in the recent pro-SoDo arena proposal op-ed by Seattle City Council candidate Ann Davison Sattler, which didn’t appear to have a full understanding of the Seattle Center Arena agreement. Last year, I was able to detail the deal in broad strokes, but let’s do a bit deeper dive to clear some things up. ARENA SPECIFICS The new arena obliterates the interior of the old arena, allowing construction to dig down 15 feet and dig outward to expand the footprint. The new arena will put on its big building pants at a whopping 800,000+ sq. ft., up from 368,000 sq. ft. for the old KeyArena. The majority of the new building will exist underground, allowing OVG to maintain the historically landmarked roof and three of the existing exterior walls. The south wall will be leveled to make way for a fancy entrance atrium to welcome guests starting with a planned June 2021 opening. The new haunt will seat 17,363 for the NHL, 18,627 for the NBA, 17,739 for an end-stage concert, and around 19,000 for a center-stage concert. This would rank SCA 27th on the list of NHL arenas and 16th on the list of NBA arenas by capacity at the time it opens. By comparison, KeyArena was the smallest NBA home in the Sonics’ last season at 17,072 and was downright inhospitable for major league hockey with 15,177 seats, a far off-center scoreboard, and obstructed views aplenty. TEAMS Seattle made an extraordinary statement in March 2018 on the thirst here for winter sports and NHL hockey, in particular. Shattering expectations and records, a sanctioned season ticket drive to demonstrate interest saw 10,000 ticket deposits made in the first 12 minutes, and 32,000+ total deposits laid down in the first day. The NHL’s previous expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights, had impressed by garnering 10,000 deposits in 8 weeks. The day in Seattle shook through the sports world like a Beast-quake. Don’t fret, hoops fans, the NBA is on the menu. As part of the agreement, Seattle Arena Company LLC (“ArenaCo”), the umbrella company for the arena construction and operations, is charged with using “commercially reasonable efforts” to pursue both NHL and NBA clubs. Despite claims and thoughts otherwise, they must pursue an NBA team. Prior to beginning demolition of the existing building earlier this year, OVG gained approval from both leagues on the SCA design. An NBA ownership group would join ArenaCo as equity partners, becoming equal “owners” of the arena with OVG and SHP. The city owns the building, but ArenaCo will manage and operate. The NHL ownership is also anticipated to have cross-ownership in the NBA club, either as majority or minority owners. Seattle was, of course, granted expansion for the NHL’s 32nd club back in December. One down, one to go. The group will also take over the lease for the reigning WNBA champion Seattle Storm from the city. MUSIC ArenaCo is anticipating 70-80 concerts and live events annually. These are the lifeblood of any arena, even though the anchor sports team(s) tend to get higher profile. The new arena will allow Seattle to host those 15-20 major touring events it has missed out on each year due to previous insufficient facilities. Music has been referred to as an “anchor tenant,” leading many to believe this will shut out NBA opportunities. With 200-250 potential use dates planned each year, there is plenty of opportunity to go around. And with single facilities hosting events, in addition to programming both the NBA and NHL, in the biggest markets in the country — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and even Toronto in Canada — Seattle would not be reinventing the wheel. The NBA requires teams to submit at least 50 available dates each year to coordinate that season’s schedule. Tentative scheduling of other events during potential playoff timing is a regular aspect of the business. OVG has long stated that the sports anchor teams will get priority scheduling. On the SCA website, when discussing the initial “music-first” approach to building the arena, they state, “If we attract teams, we will adjust the music programming to accommodate the Storm, NBA and NHL schedules before booking other events to ensure teams can be competitive.” FINANCIALS Alright, enough teasing. Let’s get to the sexy part, money and taxes. The project is estimated to cost about $930 million. All of the cost, and the risk associated with it, is borne by OVG. The city and its taxpayers bear no responsibility, which is great considering the project when first proposed was around $600 million. Costs of labor in the booming Seattle construction market, as well as costs of materials due to the oh-so-fun present geopolitical environment, have contributed. The group has also iterated upon and added elements to the arena to improve the overall experience. Speaking to KOMO News in July 2018, OVG chief executive Tim Leiweke stated, “A lot of the extra money we’re spending on this building is geared to make sure we have three anchor tenants: the Storm, the NHL, and if the NBA chooses one day, we will not only make it work where they’re equal, but the revenue they can generate from the building will be as if they are in a brand new building that they own without them having to pay for it.” Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke speaking with KOMO News, July 31, 2018 Scoffing at a group willing to drop a cool billion to deliver a top-flight arena may signal a loss of some perspective. And don’t worry, the group has been independently verified as financially capable to deliver the arena and operate it. City getting paid So what does the city earn each year through this deal? A guaranteed annual rent payment of just over $2.8 million. A guaranteed annual baseline tax payment of $2.24 million. Claims to the first $2 million in net parking revenue each from the 5th Avenue N and the Mercer Street parking garages. To deal with that pesky inflation, all amounts will be escalated annually based on the lesser of 3% or that year’s percentage change in the urban Consumer Price Index for the Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton area. The amount cannot be de-escalated. There is a $350,000 annual rent abatement — a discount, if you will — for the first ten years of the lease. It’s not explicitly spelled out what this is for in the documents. The math How did they get to those numbers? A financial analysis of the last four operating years of KeyArena (2014-17), which was operating at a profit, to create historical averages for each payment element. OVG has agreed to guarantee that the city does not “go backwards” from the profit it was making. The averages for the rent include 2 elements: combination of the KeyArena net facility revenue and the net parking revenue from the 1st Avenue N parking garage the net revenue from Seattle Center sponsorship rights The averages for the baseline tax payment include 5 elements, all directly attributable to arena operations and related businesses: the city’s portion of sales tax revenues related to the arena Business & Occupation tax revenues related to the arena the city’s portion of Leasehold Excise tax revenues related to the arena the annual Admissions tax revenue related to the arena combination of the annual commercial parking tax revenue and the city’s portion of the sales tax revenues from the three Seattle Center parking garages The percentage change of the area CPI is a common and effective means of determining the local rate of inflation. This allows the baseline rent and tax payments to keep pace with the change in dollar value long-term. The average percentage change in Seattle’s CPI from 2000-2018 was 2.41%. By comparison, the national average rate of inflation during that time was 2.14%. How the city earns more One of the more common misconceptions of the SCA agreement appears to be the belief that the city stands to make no more from it than rent and little to nothing from associated taxes. While there’s no guarantee the city will make more money, that actually holds no guarantee that ArenaCo will make any more money than its annual obligations to the city. It’s safe to chalk that under the not very likely category. Think of it as pie. Flavor of your choosing. Not simply as a metaphor for sharing but as a dessert after a meal. Here, the meal has a full course of the baseline rent and and a full course of the baseline tax payments. The treat afterward is a split of excess revenue as each of seven payment thresholds — four of the five ensured tax amounts and the first-served payouts on sponsorship and parking revenues — is met. This is called the “rent adjustment”. For the first ten years of the lease, the city gets 25% of that excess and ArenaCo gets 75%. After that, the two share a dead-even 50-50 split for the remainder of the lease, including any of the extensions. That’s the potential of 45 years of matched shared dessert dollar for dollar. Parking 1st Ave N garage: ArenaCo will take over operating the garage from Seattle Center and will lease it as part of the overall arena lease. The baseline rent payment guarantees the city is paid as much as the garage was earning on average. ArenaCo gets the net parking revenue above the rent payout. During arena construction, the group will pay the city rent on the garage. 5th Ave N garage: The city gets dibs on the net parking revenue up to the threshold of $2,009,969 annually, escalated for inflation. The city and ArenaCo split any revenue above that. Mercer St. garage: Like 5th Ave, the city earns the revenue up to the threshold of $2,010,704 annually, escalated for inflation, and splits any revenue with ArenaCo beyond that. Sponsorships During the arena lease, ArenaCo will be the exclusive sponsorship benefits representative for Seattle Center as a whole entity and specifically for the arena. They will not be permitted to sell benefits for any “specific portion, place, facility, segment or feature of the Seattle Center Campus, or any event or activity occurring at the Seattle Center Campus” outside of the arena, but may be consulted and help administer and activate these other sponsorships. Speaking with Q13 Fox TV’s Bill Wixey back in November 2017, Leiweke explained that their sponsorships (and corporate sales) will escalate with the arrival of an NBA team to offer incentive to the NBA ownership without taking away from the NHL club. Wixey: It’s basically like an escalator clause that you have in there…? Leiweke: Exactly right. So we’re building all of that into our deals. We’ve already made that understanding and agreement with everyone including the NBA knows what we’re gonna do […] At the end of the day, we’ve already built all of the contractually-obligated income into every contract we did and all of them go up in order to make sure we have the basketball team as a top quartile within the NBA. That’s the way that’s going to work. Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke speaking with Q13 Fox’s Bill Wixey, November 5, 2017 Arena sponsors: ArenaCo has the right to sell sponsorship benefits to one (1) arena naming rights sponsor, eight (8) arena founding partners, eight (8) arena presenting partners, and eight (8) arena partners. Recently, Symetra and Virginia Mason were announced as two of the founding partner sponsors. Rent adjustment: ArenaCo guarantees to pay the net sponsorship revenue up to the $781,454 threshold annually, escalated for inflation. If the annual revenue is less than that amount, ArenaCo will pay the difference to the city. If the annual revenue is more, the city and ArenaCo will split the excess. This includes the arena naming rights. After the first ten years of the lease, if there is a period of three (3) consecutive years with no rent adjustment payments made to the city from sponsorship revenue, ArenaCo must pay the city the threshold amount and then pay the city an additional 50% of the then-current threshold amount out of pocket. This is a rolling provision. So, say there’s no rent adjustment in years 11, 12, and 13, ArenaCo pays the threshold plus 50% in year 14, but there’s still no rent adjustment in year 14? They have to pay the 50% extra cash in year 15 to cover the run of years 12, 13, and 14, and so on. Taxes The city gets first cut of the taxes. Under the agreement’s “Baseline Tax Guaranty,” each of the five tax thresholds must be met each year. ArenaCo agrees to pay the difference to the city if a threshold is not met. Rent adjustment: As each of the sales tax, B&O tax, leasehold excise tax, and combo of commercial parking tax and parking sales tax thresholds are hit, whichever tax has excess revenue, the city and ArenaCo will split that excess amount. Admissions tax: Again, city receives first cut of admissions tax revenues up to the annual $1.3 million threshold, escalated for inflation. ArenaCo will pay the difference to the city if the threshold is not met. If it is met and there is excess, ArenaCo will keep 100% of the excess amount. COMMUNITY AND ADDITIONAL BENEFITS As with many of these public-private partnership projects, a plethora of additional benefits are provided for the community at large both associated with the arena and beyond it. These focus on youth, arts, sports, music, and culture. agreements to foster equity and social justice Community Workforce Agreement / Project Labor Agreement adhering to city’s Priority Hire Program for women, people of color, and those in social and economic distressed areas Labor Harmony Agreements with all relevant labor organizations Women and Minority-Owned Businesses inclusion plan a charitable foundation with a minimum $20 million fund established to aid various community organizations around Seattle $10 million earmarked for YouthCare, a group aiding homeless youth 12-member “giving council” will vote on how to provide funds to other organizations and administer $2.5 million contributed towards affordable housing minimum of $3.5 million to be spent on public art in two phases One phase with art dedicated specifically to the arena One phase with art, music, and cultural programming in public spaces around the arena city granted 14 days of arena use each year free of charge up to 6 consecutive days around Labor Day weekend for Bumbershoot up to 8 days for the Seattle/King County free health clinic or other community events meeting space provided for the Uptown Alliance and the Uptown Arts & Culture Coalition bi-weekly up to 12 people quarterly up to 50 people dedicated positions with ArenaCo and city to coordinate with the communities around Seattle Center full-time ArenaCo community liaison Seattle Center ombudsperson position Monthly meeting to discuss construction impacts, and eventually arena operation ArenaCo, city, and community coordination committee established by the development agreement addressing affordability and arena access at all income levels various pricing at all seating levels coordinating with tenants on opportunities for reduced pricing at games and events FURTHER ARENACO RESPONSIBILITIES In addition to the responsibility of pursuing an NBA team, ArenaCo agrees to use “commercially reasonable efforts” to garner the ‘Seattle SuperSonics’ name for the team, pending NBA approval, of course. The group also has to maintain and operate the arena to the standards of three benchmark NBA/NHL arenas: TD Garden in Boston, United Center in Chicago, and Pepsi Center in Denver. They were charged with preserving the iconic Paul Thiry roof of the existing building. As part of that, they engaged in the preservation entitlement process at their own cost and gained historical landmark status for the roof from the city in August 2017. They are still pursuing a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. If they make the list, ArenaCo will be eligible for federal historic tax credits for the project. They will also need to have the arena green building certified LEED Gold. Capital Improvements As part of the maintenance, the arena group is required to cover all expenses for any repair, restoration, or replacement of any element within the arena due to minor or major damage. That’s your basic wear-and-tear. Beyond that, they are required to spend a minimum of $1 million per year on capital improvements during the first 10 years of the lease. This doubles to a $2 million minimum per year each year after that. These are investments toward the future of the arena. But that’s not all. Above those minimum improvements, during the first 20 years of the lease, they are required to make any additional capital expenditures that would be commonly expected in a leasehold mortgage. To then qualify for the first of the two built-in 8-year lease extensions, the arena has to be home to one or both of the NHL and NBA clubs, and they have to spend at least $50 million in capital improvements above the minimums during years 21 to 30 of the lease. If they want to go for the second lease extension, they’ll need the team(s) and have to spend at least another $50 million in capital improvements above the minimums during years 31 to 47. Development and construction ArenaCo reimburses the city on costs associated with the development, execution, and performance of the Memorandum of Understanding entered into in December 2017, and the transaction documents that make up the arena deal agreed to in September 2018, up to $3.5 million. They also pay and/or reimburse the city for all costs associated with the permitting process and the SEPA environmental review process. The arena group also pays to help relocate tenants and facilities affected by the redevelopment of the arena site. For tenants at the Bressi Garage and the Blue Spruce building, they have paid up to $500,000. To relocate the Seattle Center Skatepark, a campus maintenance facility, and public restrooms, they’ve contributed $1.5 million. They have also agreed to offer employment to both city workers and employees of contractors previously working at KeyArena who have been displaced by the construction. Transportation Long the sticky wicket in the debate over the viability of the Seattle Center site for an arena. With changes in urban planning due to growth, the arena is better located for the future than many will give credit. That said, even in the waning years of the Sonics’ original time in Seattle, it was a challenge to get to the arena let alone find parking for the many who drove. With big changes to mass transit still years away, no one can deny it will be a bit strenuous getting to (and potentially from) the new digs. There are some compelling ideas being explored and possibly initiated to improve traffic and transportation regarding the arena. This is a feast of discussion unto itself better saved for another day. While it’s unrealistic to expect ArenaCo to solve all traffic in the South Lake Union-Downtown-Belltown-LQA/Uptown areas, they are contributing $100 million+ to address traffic concerns directly related to the arena. Part of this is a $40 million transportation fund that ArenaCo will pay into annually during the lease. Many have argued the fund is not helpful unless fully paid upfront. The city counters that they can borrow against the fund with bond-backed financing for any traffic improvements knowing that they have a dedicated source for repayment. The transportation fund is in addition to money ArenaCo will outlay towards traffic and transportation identified as mitigation during the environmental review process. WRAPPING UP The Seattle Center Arena project addresses the two main issues raised by an arena replacement project: the need for a new arena in Seattle and what to do with the aging KeyArena. Analysis during the MOU discussions, and the run-up to the transaction documents to seal the deal, clearly demonstrated that capital improvements needed for KeyArena would’ve destroyed any profit to be further gained from the building. With this project, the city has gained a private partner who has agreed to take on all costs of development, construction, operation, and maintenance of the new arena. More important, the risk is shifted off the city and away from taxpayers. The amount the city was making in revenue and taxes from KeyArena is preserved with the opportunity to make more locked in place. ArenaCo has already delivered an NHL club on the strength of this project, and we are better poised to get our beloved Sonics back than we’ve been in the eleven years of their absence. Not everyone likes, agrees with, or believes in this arena deal or its appeal to the NBA. It’s fine to be of that opinion. At the very least, hopefully, this helped to clarify the arena agreement to better discuss the differences of opinion going forward. Download our handy reference guide to play bingo with the talking points in your discussions.
The Mariners are struggling. I see it, you see it, and every MLB team sees it. After starting the Season 13-3, beating the reigning World Series champs, they were two blown bullpen appearances from being 15-0. Those bullpen appearances, as I mentioned in a previous article, were just a glimpse of what was to come. I didn’t expect it to be this bad, but let’s face it: It’s bad. Since their inspiring start to the season, they got swept by the Astros and Indians—two teams with far superior pitching than the teams previously faced, giving the Mariners an inflated win margin. They went on to take 3 of 4 from the Angels, got swept by the Padres, took 2 of 4 from the Rangers (but the last two games, the M’s got outscored 29-2), swept by the Cubs, lost 2 of 3 to the Indians, lost 3 of 4 to the Yankees, swept by the Red Sox, pulled off a two-game sweep against the Athletics, lost 3 of 4 to the Twins, and took the loss last night to the Rangers. Let’s dig deeper, shall we? Since sweeping the Royals on April 11th, the Mariners got outscored by the Astros 15-9, by the Indians 11-6, by the Padres 7-4, by the Rangers 35-21 (in game 1, the M’s scored 14, so from game 2 on, they were outscored 33-7), by the Cubs 17-5. They outscored the Indians 15-7, but still only took 1 game out of the 3 game set. They outscored the Yankees 18-16, but still lost 3 of the 4 games. They got outscored by the Red Sox 34-8 during that sweep. They outscored the Athletics 10-8 but got absolutely demolished by the Twins. They managed to score a total of 18 runs—as many as the Twins scored on Saturday night. Therefore, they were outscored 39-18 over that span. Okay, just a little bit further deeper. Since April 11th, the Mariners’ pitching (and defense) has given up double-digit runs to the opposing team 10 times in 35 games and have gone 10-25. Defensively, it has also been a struggle. The Mariners have committed 54 errors, placing them dead last in the MLB. What is shocking is the number of errors committed by the outfield: 12. Infielder Tim Beckham, however, matches that number alone—12. Errors extend innings, put more work on a pitching staff who is already struggling. There are some glimmers of positivity. Offensively, they are in the top or near the top in every category. They lead the entire MLB in HRs with 92. They are 6th in doubles, 5th in hits, 1st in runs scored (blows my mind too) and RBIs, 6th in walks, 5th in stolen bases, 17th in batting average, and 4th in slugging. They also lead the MLB in strikeouts. The moral of this story: Being a powerhouse offense can only get you so far. Yes, the Mariners hit home runs, and score quite a bit of runs. However, lower tier pitching and bottom of the barrel defense will cost you more than you earn. It has been an interesting year. Through the firth month, we thought this rebuild might have been quite the success early on in the rebuild process. However, we’re seeing what it means to rebuild. Look at the Twins and the Rays. They are looking like serious contenders after years of rebuilding. I think Jerry and the front office is following the same roadmap: bringing in prospects and once they’re ready, he will add top tier pitching as the final piece to the puzzle. Be patient. I know, it is tough to be patient with this franchise. However, Dipoto is not like previous GMs who went after players like Cano and traded players away like Adam Jones. He sees the value in the farm system, and I think we will see results in the next year or two. I’m remaining optimistic, you should too.
The Western Conference Finals start tonight in Oakland and our staff gives a quick preview as to what to expect in the series. Do the Blazers have a shot in hell against the Warriors? Kevin Nesgoda: Everyone has a shot. Weirder and more improbable things have happened in sports. Vegas is giving the Blazers about a -290 going into the series. The Blazers are however playing with house money. They were the popular pick to fall out of the playoff picture coming into the season, they were supposed to be swept by whoever they played in the first round after Nurkic went down, they were supposed to be cast aside by the Nuggets in the second round. Yet, here the Blazers stand and there is no Kevin Durant for the first two games of the series. Charlie Folkestad: Yes. As a team, Portland has already been through hell and back. One year ago, they were getting swept in the first round by the sixth seed. Fast forward to now, and against all odds, the Trail Blazers have dominated the Thunder and eked past a strong Denver squad in seven games. Portland is the only backcourt in the league that can keep pace with the Warriors, and a Kevin Durant injury could help the Blazers steal a road game early. Chris Meirose: Anything can happen, and that’s why they play the game(s). But in reality, I say no. Just too much talent on the GSW roster – even if Durant misses a game. If he misses the series get back to me, but even then, I’d say chances are marginal at best. Ryan Shea: I think the Blazers can compete against the Warriors. One of their signature wins earlier in the Season was a victory against the Warriors at home right before the all-star break. They continued to rattle off win after win and really hit their stride after that victory. It’s only fitting to come full circle and face them again. Taylor Bartle: At the series? Ehhhh, probably not. Dame can’t play like he did in game 7 of the Denver series if they are. If they had Nurkic healthy I think the odds might go up, especially with Boogie on the shelf. They are really going to need guys like Leonard and Collins to get down low and bang. How much does Kevin Durant’s injury matter in this series? Kevin: It sounds like he is going to be out the first two games and that could be just enough for the Blazers to at least split the games in Oakland. It might not matter much once KD returns, but a little confidence can go a long way. Charlie: Not as much as you’d think. Durant will likely only sit for two games (if that), and the Warriors were still able to close out the Rockets series without him. Also, the Warriors went 67-15 and won a title four years ago with this same starting lineup (and Iguodala and Livingston), other than Kevin Durant replacing Harrison Barnes. Chris: Depends on how long he is out for and what he looks like coming back. If they win game 1 and 2 without him, it really changes the dynamic as well. Ryan: Some say the Warriors play better without Durant but it will force them to play a different style of ball and rely on their depth. Considering their injuries that could hurt them in a long series. Taylor: Kevin Durant is the best offensive player in the world. I said it. Yes, the Warriors played better without him in the Houston series but that’s because they changed their game when he was there. For whatever reason, Kerr feels the need to iso KD exclusively against the Rockets. I still think the Warriors are a bigger threat with him. Outside of Dame and CJ who is going to be the most consistent Blazer? Kevin: I would say Rodney Hood, but he’s day-to-day with a knee injury. That would move the line down to Mo Harkless or Zach Collins. The Blazers need to have a consistent third option or this is going to be an extremely short series. Charlie: Enes Kanter. So far he has been able to deliver 12.9 points per game and 10.6 rebounds in the postseason—against better players than Andrew Bogut or Kevon Looney. While Rodney Hood and—recently—Evan Turner have looked impressive, Portland will have to win the battle down low when Kanter is on the floor to have any chance in this series. His ability to guard the pick-and-roll will also be a factor yet again for Portland defensively. Chris: Zach Collins. He’s probably the best story of the year for the Blazers and so many haven’t heard it yet. Maybe he’ll get some additional focus during this series so more people will know of him. Ryan: This might not be the most consistent Blazer, but they need to get the most out of Evan Turner this series. If I’m putting bets on the most consistent I’ll go with Mo Harkless. He’s likely going to be spending time guarding both Klay and Curry. Taylor: Have Dame and CJ even been consistent? The Blazers are getting production from a myriad of sources but I don’t think any one player has been incredibly consistent. They will need Lillard to be Dame Dolla and CJ to really try, Jennifer, and will also need production from their bigs. Who do you think the Curry family is going to cheer for more, Steph or Seth? Kevin: Steph is the oldest and therefore the obvious favorite. I don’t care what Mama and Papa Curry have to say. Charlie: In Oakland—Steph. In Portland—Seth. Chris: Steph. Everybody loves a winner. Even mama. Ryan: They have to be excited both kids are in it and simply rooting for each player to perform well. Taylor: “Wardell, let your brother win once in a while.” What is your prediction for the series? Kevin: I really want the Blazers to make this a series. I think if the Blazers can take advantage of Kevin Durant being out with an injury and a banged up Steph Curry they could take this series to six or seven. In saying that, I’m taking the Warriors in six. Charlie: Portland in 7. [send tweet] Chris: We may need to have Charlie drug tested. GSW in 5 if Durant misses only 1-2 games. Otherwise GSW in 6. Ryan: I predict the Blazers fall short, 4-2. Taylor: I think the Blazers only win one. I’d love to be wrong.