If the NBA made its decisions on metro economics, Seattle would easily win the contest for the Kings/Sonics. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue is the 15th largest metropolitan statistical area and 12th biggest media market. Sacramento clocks in at 25 and 20 respectively. Seattle’s median household income in 2011 was $61,856 vs. Sacramento’s $50,781.
Seattle is a major player in the world economy, ranked among the top global cities in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s recent Hot Spots report. Sacramento didn’t even make a footnote. We’re Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon.com, Costco, Paccar, Starbucks and Nordstrom, with top aerospace and software clusters and significant others in biosciences and world health. We’re a large port and trade center. They’re a state capital, a sleepy sprawly place dominated by government. Sacramento hasn’t been a force in the global economy since gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in 1848. It is also about 80 miles from the location of another NBA team, the Golden State Warriors.
Of course, metro economics aren’t always the deciding factor. But Oklahoma City was an outlier. Although it is only the 43rd largest MSA, it had local owners committed to bringing a team and a loyal fan base. OKC reversed decades of downtown decline by an innovative revitalization program. And it has oil…black gold…Texas tea… Or, rather, it is a major corporate city for energy companies.
As a lifelong Phoenix Suns fan, it pains me to see KJ (Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson) face this civic loss. Although he was a Suns star, KJ went home to Sacramento, became prominent as a civic steward and is now mayor. But it’s hard to fight the economic realities plus the liability of an older arena out in the middle of nowhere. Harder still to fight owners who aren’t committed to the city. If the Sonics return to Seattle, they will benefit from the region’s economic strengths, and local owners who are also civic stewards.
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Today’s Econ Haiku:
A fire in Tucson
Not Mi Nidito’s burros
Boeing has heartburn