SEATTLE – Imagine the Seattle SuperSonics playing in the NBA’s Western Conference Finals this week.
“There would be people out the door,” said Don Tremblay, who owns T.S. McHughs in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood. “We’d be turning people away.”
Instead, the Oklahoma City Thunder are facing off against the Dallas Mavericks Thursday night.
“I’d be stoked to see our team playing in the Western Conference Finals. If the game was tonight, I’d be excited all day looking forward to it” said Jason Reid, producer of “Sonicsgate”, a 2009 movie which chronicled the departure of the franchise. “We can’t root for Oklahoma City.”
“There would be people in the streets, but it’s something of a ghost town (by Key Arena),” said Adam Brown, a fellow Sonicsgate producer.
“I think it’s an economic issue,” said Rep. Mike Hope, R- Lake Stevens. He believes the state should be involved in building an arena to lure a franchise back. He also believes it can be done without using Washington taxpayer money.
That’s why he and State Rep. David Frockt, D-Seattle plan to lead a task force this summer to come up with a solution.
“It’s time to revisit the issue,” said Frockt, who also acknowledges there is “no appetite for a public subsidy." Frockt believes the state needs to look at all the financing options on the table.
Hope suggests the state pursue a “Jock Tax” on visiting athletes to partially pay for a new NBA-ready building. It’s a type of tax already in place in several states.
“Right now, you have the Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks going to California to play games, going to Cleveland, Ohio to play games and Cleveland is getting money from our players,” said Hope.
Both lawmakers said they didn’t want the issue to be a distraction during this legislative session, but they hope to have something ready for the 2012 session.
NBA Spokesperson Tim Frank said the league has “no position” on the “Jock Tax” idea.