Ever since the Sonics left, Seattle fans and NBA followers have speculated about what small-market franchise will be brought here to replace/revive them (any Seattle NBA team would be named the Sonics). Seely recently targeted Sacramento, but perhaps the New Orleans Hornets (featuring the incomprable Chris Paul, pictured at left) are the likeliest candidate.
Thanks to a contract that would make any pimp proud, the state of Louisiana is obligated to make a combined annual $27.5 million in direct cash payments to the Hornets and the NFL's Saints. (Of course, direct cash really is no different from a tax expenditure--it's just more honest.) If the state doesn't make those payments, the teams can leave without a penalty.
The thing is, Louisiana's budget--like everyone else's--is in the shitter, and it looks unlikely that the state will be able to make its payment.Adding a layer of intrigue to the situation is the fact that Louisiana's governor, Bobby Jindal, is frequently mentioned as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2012. Whatever solution he advocates on this tricky corporate welfare/community asset issue could come back to haunt him in his assent.
Our suggestion to Piyush (that's his real name--he dubbed himself Bobby after the Brady Bunch character) is to renegotiate the subsidy as a tax cut to keep his party happy. Of course, there is the off chance that Louisiana has better uses for its money. And we know a guy named Steve who might be willing to take that team off its hands.
h/t Camp Jones