Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Stranger | Seattle | News | City | Key Amendments:

After nearly 10 years on the council, Licata is still on point. Last month he told Sports Illustrated that if the Sonics made good on their threat to leave town, the economic and cultural impact would be near "zero."

Licata is right to say that professional sports teams are economically irrelevant to cities. An in-depth 2004 study by the Cato Institute (no enemy of business) found that, if anything, professional sports teams may actually hurt local economies. The study debunks industry claims that sports teams generate new consumer spending (they actually just suck up existing discretionary spending), and concludes, "the net economic impact [is] a reduction in real per-capita income over the entire metropolitan area."
NBA arenas built before 1960 lasted an average of 59 years. NBA arenas built in the 1960s lasted an average of 30 years. In the 1970s—an average of 25 years. In the 1980s—an average of 20 years. And judging from KeyArena (again revamped in 1995), arenas built in the 1990s last 10 years. Indeed, of the 29 NBA arenas currently in use, the average age is 10 years. Only six have been in service more than 15 years, and most of these are already slated for replacement. Licata laughs: "The evidence shows that the team will be unhappy with a new stadium before it's even built."