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Monday, November 13, 2006

Coming attractions

Speaking of the Blazers, it appears that the voters of Seattle have burned their bridges with their NBA team, the Sonics. Thus, the Sonics are likely to move to Oklahoma around the year 2010, which would leave a pro hoops void in the Emerald City that the Blazers' owner, Paul Allen, probably won't be able to resist. Will he try to move the Blazers north? Granted, he won't get a deal from the City of Seattle, but he's got a terrible deal in Portland right now -- it can't get much worse.

Comments (9)

The Oklahoma City purchase of the Sonics is why I don't see any mystery to the re-ignition of Paul Allen's interest in the team.

I've read lots of back and forth on whether his 25 year lease with the Rose Garden can be bought out. Or, even if ther is a buyout, if the league will allow the move of the Blazers to Seattle. B-Ball is Allen's favorite sport. No doubt he would want to move the team north if he could.

Could the City of Portland (which I understand is a party to the Rose Garden lease) hold fast and prevent this move?

We've been through that on here before. The lease holds him to Portland through 2025, I think. But he had a mortgage, too, and he was willing to walk away from that. If the Sonics are really gone from the Northwest, he could conceivably talk the league into letting him take the team into bankruptcy, void the lease, and re-emerge in a new hall that he builds in Seattle. A little far-fetched, but stranger stuff has happened with that guy.

Jack -

While the corporate Blazers entity could indeed be run through a Chapter 11 and dump the executory remainder of the lease, Allen has a personal problem: IIRC, and maybe I don't, our civic fathers were surprisingly prescient with the Blazers vis a vis the Rose Garden -- Allen was required to personally, repeat, personally, guarantee the lease payments by the Blazers corporate entity to the city.

While Allen, through Vulcan Investments, is constantly prooving the old adage that all it takes to make a small fortune is to start with a large fortune (Charter Communications, for example), I still don't see Allen personally doing a chapter 11 or 13 any tme in this century.

Allen was required to personally, repeat, personally, guarantee the lease payments by the Blazers corporate entity to the city.

The city doesn't own the building, and as I understand it, never has. The lease is currently held (i.e., the building is owned) by the investor entities that were foolish enough to lend Allen's now-defunct arena corporation the money to build the place. Do they have his personal guarantee on the lease? I don't know.

I do know that if there's any way for DOS Boy to get out of Portland and move the team to Seattle, he'll do it. And if it costs him a mere $50 million or $100 million in damages, that won't deter him a bit. He pays that kind of money out all the time on his basketball hobby, to clowns like Sean Kemp and Darius Miles.

I see there is some sort of "site agreement" between the city and someone or something in the Allen camp. Even assuming that Allen's personally on the hook for that one, he can buy his way out of it if he wants to. And if the Blazers make the playoffs in '08 and start bringing in decent box office again, he may be more inclined to drop the dough and get the heck out of Dodge.

And some think that the site agreement may not be enforceable anyway. What? Portland City Hall sign a contract that it turns out it can't enforce? Impossible, you say?

I'm with you on this one Jack. I think that Paul Allen's motives are very suspect at this point. First we get all this jibberish about the "broken economic model", then several investor groups step up to buy the team and the arena, and then after all the drama he says the team is no longer on the market. The timing of taking the team off the market in close conjunction with the Oklahoma group buying out the Sonics makes me nervous...very nervous.

Still leaves the problem of no stadium in Seattle and no will there for public financing. Economically, it might cost him more than buying back the Rose Garden ($50 to $100 million per year in losses for four more years in Portland plus any damanges plus cost of building a new arena in Seattle).

It seems they may be trying to change public will here by appearing to be good guys and "engaged" in the community. Throw in some winning ways again, and there you go. But who knows? The way they operate hasn't made sense since they tried to bluff their way into buying the Rose Garden by going into bankrupcy.

He's going to have to own the arena to make his little hobby come even close to working. There's no public money for the building in either city. If it comes down to buying the Portland arena or building a shiny new one in Seattle, there's little doubt in my mind where he'll go.

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