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Commentary: Mayor Coleman should have kept his mouth shut about NBA team in Columbus

Courtesy of MCT

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman should have just kept his mouth shut.
The Columbus Dispatch reported Thursday that Coleman sent a two-page letter to NBA Commissioner David Stern in which he stated his interest in attracting an NBA franchise to central Ohio and Nationwide Arena. Coleman presides over a city that already has one professional team – the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets – and it’s a team that is perpetually out-shined by Ohio State athletics. Everyone knows Columbus is a Buckeyes town, so that was a dent in the mayor’s argument before he even smudged the postage stamp on his letter to Stern.
Upon peeling Coleman’s correspondence open, a few more dents were likely exposed.
Coleman’s argument to the NBA for bringing professional basketball to Columbus included arguments amounting to, “our arena situation is now stable,” and “big businesses exist in this city.”
Of course, noting that your arena situation has been stabilized calls into question why it was unstable in the first place.
According to the Dispatch report, one of Coleman’s zingers to Stern was something to the affect of, “we have the lowest unemployment rate in the state.”
The lowest unemployment rate in a rustbelt state? That might be a fact, but not necessarily a reassurance to Stern.
What I’m truly surprised by is that he didn’t include that Columbus appears on all United States maps, and is, in fact, the capital of Ohio.
Another reason Coleman should have kept it zipped is because the unintended consequences of his letter stretched to Cleveland and back.
Coleman’s letter also elicited a response from Cleveland Cavaliers owner, Dan Gilbert, according to The Dispatch, who said he’d have to weigh whether he’d allow another NBA franchise to move in-state.
“I haven’t even studied the demographics of Columbus to know if they could handle two sports teams,” Gilbert told The Dispatch.
Then Columbus’ Major League Soccer franchise, the Columbus Crew, took exception to Gilbert’s comments, as any self-respecting professional sports organization would.
From the Twitter account, @ColumbusCrew, the MLS team tweeted Thursday afternoon: “Looks like #Crew96 fans should let Dan Gilbert know that there are already two professional sports teams in Columbus.”
That tiny spat between organizations could have easily been avoided if Coleman hadn’t sent the letter.
Like the rest of us, I’m sure Colelman had fun fantasizing about having an NBA team in town. But that doesn’t mean you go grab the NBA commissioner’s attention over it, or write him a letter for that matter. This isn’t 1920 – email or call Stern, or set up a Skype date with him and your potential investors (if there are any) and conduct some business.
It’s going to take more than some City of Columbus letterhead to attract an NBA franchise to this market anyway.

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