Saturday, April 19


There are two opposing views on the best path for Seattle to take in the dispute between the city and the Sonics. Both have valid arguments, but I think that, to an objective viewer, there is only one real option.

Option one is the one proposed by Mayor Greg Nickels. Essentially, it is to litigate the situation to buy time for the city to come up with an adequate (to the NBA) arena. Considering his bag already contains $150 million from Steve Ballmer & Co. and $75 million from his own city, he is 75% of the way there already. While it is difficult to find ways to come up with $75 million in a time span of one month, it is not difficult to find ways to obtain that much money in the time span of two years. Is $300 million the true cost of the arena redevelopment? Of course not, these estimates are always far short of reality, but that is not the point. The $120 million for the Ford Center redesign is a pie-in-the-sky figure as well, as is the money being trotted out for the new arena in Orlando. The key element to this option is the availability of funding, not only for the arena, but for the team itself.

Option two is the one proposed by Ron Sims, Pete von Reichbauer, and the NBA. Essentially, it entails the city engaging in settlement talks with Clay Bennett for the remaining two years of the lease. In this situation, the city would lose the team, receive somewhere in the ballpark of $50 million, and then hope that David Stern can convince another owner in another city to extort that city's taxpayers.

In other words, we would pull a Bennett.

Let's be honest, another expansion team is extremely unlikely at this point, as David Stern himself has stated on numerous occasions. If the city were to surrender the Sonics to Bennett, the only way for we as fans to obtain a new team would be to pull the same garbage on another city which Oklahoma City is currently pulling on us (and, yes, OKC, your hands are absolutely bloody in this mess; Clay Bennett may have ordered the hit, but you carried it out).

So, we have two options: first, hold our ground and wait for Bennett to cave, or, second, cave in and hope that we can screw over another city.

In the meantime, option one costs the city $75 million in exchange for a completely refurbished KeyArena. Option two nets the city something in the neighborhood of $50 million, an improvement of $125 million, but costs us $150 million in lost income from the Group of Four.

I'm sorry, but I can't see how anyone could go for option two.

Unless, of course, you happened to be a man possessed.


Anonymous said...

Option 1 is not available. Clay has already signed a 15 year lease with OKC and it has a clause that prevents an extension of the lease with Seattle or the state of Washington.

By Bryan Dean
Staff Writer
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said Friday afternoon the question is no longer if the Seattle SuperSonics will come to Oklahoma City, it is only a question of when.

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Following a press conference by NBA Commissioner David Stern and Sonics owner Clay Bennett, Cornett spoke about the NBA Board of Governor’s 28-2 vote to relocate the team to Oklahoma City.

Cornett said the team’s lease with the city, approved Tuesday by the council and signed by Bennett, will take effect now that the relocation was approved by the NBA.

The lease is effective for the 2010-2011 season unless the team can work out a deal with Seattle to leave Key Arena before the Sonics’ lease is set to run out in 2010.

Oklahoma City’s lease includes a provision forbidding the Sonics from extending the lease with Seattle.

“We have a signed lease with the franchise,” Cornett said. “I’ve been communicating for months that this was an if/when situation. The city was working very hard to determine if a team would be coming. That part of the equation has been determined. This team is coming to Oklahoma City."

Anonymous said...

I guess I don't understand this defeatist attitude. I would rather trust slade with option one, than participate in option two. If THIS team leaves, then I am done with the NBA.

Our family lives and breathes NBA during the winter.

But I will not participate in hijacking another team just so we can have a team.

We will survive without the NBA, the path that the NBA is headed, they need us and our market more than we need them.

Anonymous said...

Re: Clay's lease with OKC -- if Clay cracks as the litigation here proceeds, any settlement will undoubtedly involve OKC getting a team somehow. I'd bet the OKC leaders won't be too particular regarding what team it is.

Moreover, if Howard succeeds in his suit, the OKC lease could well be void.

Anonymous said...

I guess I don't understand this defeatist attitude. I would rather trust slade with option one, than participate in option two.

Did you even read the previous post? Option one IS NOT AN OPTION. Even if Bennett decided to sell, the team will have to play in Ok City.

if Howard succeeds in his suit, the OKC lease could well be void.

How so? Schultz's longshot would determine ownership, not the lease.

Anonymous said...

How so? Schultz's longshot would determine ownership, not the lease.

Well, if they rescind the sale to the start of the contract, that means everything Bennett did with the sonics would be Null and void. (this includes the selling of the Storm, the signing of the lease in OKC.)

Then the city of OKC could sue bennett for Fraud.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds it a little ironic that Clay Bennett's friend in Oklahoma is using the integrity of a lease as a reason to keep the Sonics from leaving a city.

Unknown said...

LOL nuss. What do they know anyway... they actually BELIEVE Clayton (Rhymes with Satan) Bennett when he is speaking.

No buyouts, no stealing please.

Anonymous said...

I don't really care about any OKC lease because, if you think about it, if the Sonics don't move to Oklahoma by 2010, then there is a 99.9999% certainty that Clay Bennett will NO LONGER be owning the Sonic franchise. If Option One is successful, and we win the court case to force the Sonics to stay in town until 2010, and the Ballmer plan is put into effect to approve the reconstruction of KeyArena, then I think Bennett would rather sell the team to local interests and wait for another team to become available (hopefully an expansion team). Bennett, and especially David Stern, do not want 2 more years of lame duck games here, with all the negative press that goes along with it.

I'm all for Option One, btw, but but I think we all need to be open to the idea of some kind of settlement. I guess there is always the chance that Bennett will just dig in his heels if the lease is upheld, and I'm not sure exactly how stubborn David Stern can be, and what he could do to spite us. I think I could live with these terms, if Bennett were allowed to take the franchise before next season:

1.) Bennett pays anywhere from $75 million to $100 million to Seattle to get out of town, to pay off the remaining KeyArena debt, plus some extra to help us fund the reconstruction (and assume we'll get the rest paid off somehow, so we can go forward with the Ballmer plan).

2.) Keep the SuperSonics name and records here in Seattle, so that the OKC team will be, except for the players on the team, a brand new organization (just like the Cleveland Browns).

3.) David Stern agreeing to, in no uncertain terms, that an expansion/relocated franchise be placed here by 2010 (or 2012 at the latest). Local owners would need to be found, and some kind of iron-clad lease that'll prevent another relocation threat for the next 40-60 years (or beyond) must be agreed to in advance.

Number 3 is the dealbreaker. Hey, didn't Howard Schultz have it in writing that Bennett would make a "good faith effort" to keep the team in town? I don't think I'd approve any settlement that essentially guaranteed a team here in the next 2-4 years, short of some disaster totally destroying the city. If such a promise could be kept, I'd accept it, although I would never, EVER forgive Stern or Bennett for the B.S. they put us all through.

(Yeah, I'd hate to essentially Bennett-ize another franchise to replace the Sonics, however....I never though that pro basketball would last in New Orleans, even BEFORE the hurricane. I hope that they can make it last there (jeez, I wish Stern wasn't so eager to keep the Hornets in New Orleans, and the Sonics out of Seattle!) but that town can barely get enough people to show up for a squad that has an exciting young point guard (Chris Paul) and a realistic shot at a title this year. George Shinn will be up to his old tricks soon enough, and I believe it is just a matter of time before it ends up somewhere else, like Vegas, or OKC (if they're still without a team, of course) or here.

Again, Option One is preferable, but I'd take Option Two if Stern could guarantee a new team by the time the reconstructed KeyArena is ready. I'd grudgingly accept that deal because, for me, Option Three is that the Sonics leave (at some point) and the NBA is dead to me, no matter if a new team is found eventually.

Anonymous said...

This is the last line in Percy Allen's story today in the Times:

The league's constitution stipulates the Sonics must move before the 2008-09 season or else the team must re-submit a relocation bid.

The S.O.S. website also says this, but I have not seen this mentioned in any of the other major reports. It seems to contradict the general thrust of Friday's press conference and most other reports on the situation.
If this is indeed the case, though, a court victory for the city in June would essentially cancel out the BOG's vote and thus any lease that Bennett signed with OKC. Am I wrong?
I've asked about this twice, now. Can anyone clear this up?

Online ZenDoc said...

JAS, that sounds pretty clear if it's true, but I have no idea if it is. It would be great if it was true because then their vote means next to nothing and we could have 1-2 years to really show our support for the Sonics and keep our team here. It could happen if we continually sell out Key Arena. That's our only real chance. If we boycott the games, then they will be out of here as fast as they can. is down once again, which is at least 7 times in 6 days. I don't know what's going on. They shut down yesterday to do maintenance (actually Friday) for several hours, so I thought things would be much better, but they aren't. It's almost 1:00AM now and I know that it's been down for at least an hour, probably more. It's too bad.

Anonymous said...

Jas I think i can help clear up some confusion. This was on ESPN on March 8th after the vote was approved in OKC:

"Planned upgrades include restaurants, clubs, suites and new locker rooms. If no team relocates to Oklahoma City before June 2009, the sales tax will run out after 12 months and the practice facility and any NBA-specific improvements to the Ford Center will not be built."

Now, if that's true it won't matter if the lease was signed or not. A new sales tax will have to be negotiated regardless of what happens in the next 2 years. So Bennett loses. Should the city follow up with a lawsuit? Absolutely there is a solution, and far better one that was offered when Bennett that bought the team.

I'm a Kings fan, but I'm interested in the Sonics staying if only because no fan base deserves to have 40 years of memories ripped for such a low price (and I don't mean the move to OKC).

Anonymous said...

Sorry I forgot to put that link:

Paul said...

The OKC lease is completely meaningless in a court of law. You can't sign a lease, contract, etc. when you are legally under obligation to another and expect the new one to supersede the old one. Nice try, anoymous troll.

Anonymous said...

As a neutral observer in FL, allow me to try and talk some sense into my Seattle friends. You are hoping for something that is tantamount to hoping that OKC will get destroyed in an earthquake. Stern told you how to get a new team. He laid out the model that Charlotte used. What has the "Seattle model" got you so far? A team that is leaving and has a lease with another city. PLEASE, do not pressure your politicians to take such a foolish course of action that is in such opposition to your own interests, and stop thinking you have leverage in this situation. You do not. It is over. Settle, get some money, build a new arena, and unleash your new ownership group on the world. They will produce you a team. But not if you run the NBA into the ground and cost yourself tens of millions of dollars instead. Please, do not let emotion goad you into a doomed, idiotic strategy. If you believe that Clay Bennett has always been determined to take your team to OKC, then he will certainly wait two more years. And that's all he has to do now, is wait. Everything else has been completed. Get over the disappointment and do something proactive, not something that feels good but destroys your own interests.

Anonymous said...

The OKC lease does not go into place until the 2010-2011 season, but can be moved forward to next season if allowed by the courts. So the lease is legal

Anonymous said...

"Stern told you how to get a new team. "

yes, he and clay clay said build us the most expensive arena in the country where we collect 100% revenue from ALL events... and we will honor your city with a team.

Not going to happen, and as much as a fan of basketball I am... don't want it to on those terms.

Anonymous said...

"They will produce you a team. "

from where????

there is not expansion team coming anytime soon, and you think most people want to participate in stealing for a team like clay/stern did??? sorry, not stooping to that level.

Anonymous said...

"Everything else has been completed."

there are still 3 lawsuits waiting for clay, for now. By the time this is all said and done, it may cost clay about a billion dollars that he spent for a team.

BK said...

The Seattle model is the one to respect. The city is standing up to a monopoly and not taking their stuff. That is why Stern and Bennett are also being evil with their comments.

I hope Seattle never kowtows to Stern or bennett and exposes them for what they are...the NBA nation deserves to see the real truth of what they have done to Seattle. No, repeat no good faith efforts by either party.

I would rather stand up to Stern and say NO, we are not taking it. Keep you is not welcome in Seattle.

As for does deserve a NBA team and I think they would be OK for 5 - 10 years...then karma would kick in and the team would move somewhere else where the market is better.

I am torn on the middle...I grew up in the midwest and went to OU for college. Great people there and I loved it. Now I live near Olympia, WA...I understand the Sonics history and how important it is to people here. The OK folks should be quite and happy in the fact they are getting a team...but the way it went down, they have nothing to gloat about. You supported the stealing of another city's team. A city that supported the team for 41 years and should not be leaving...even by Clay Bennett's remarks...he said he would try. Everyone is Washington knows that he did not give a good faith effort at all. He spent a little bit of time using the mayor of Renton to work a deal that was impossible to pass was for $500 million and handed in late and would cost Bennett next to nothing...everyone knew it would fail...including Bennett...that was his ONLY effort. Bennett even rewarded the Renton mayor by contributing to her re-election campaign. That was it...not even close to 12 months of good faith effort.

That is the karma going to OKC...anyone who can accept that in OK should keep it to themselves...that is just sad...SAD. What goes around comes around...good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it is too late to save this team. I don't know. I hear different things from different sources. But I do know that I would rather stand up to these gangsters and come away with nothing than bark on all fours for them just to get another team. But that's just my inclination. Some may value having a team more than they do the opportunity to try and take down David Stern, and that's understandable. I, however, don't see much good in compromising.

Anonymous said...

Just a thought: Stern is lying about the Key (someone at Sonicscentral posted a youtube video of him saying how wonderful Key Arena was back in '95, and he was fine with a remodel back when that was what Schulz wanted). He's lying about not having studied Satan/Clayton's emails. He's lying about Seattle pursuing a scorched Earth policy when all the city is trying to do is enforce a lease the goddam Bennett agreed to when he purchaced the team. He sat there with a strait face when Bennett said he meant he was "a man possessed to keep the team in Seattle." He lies blatantly, smugly, and utterly implausibly--and the press lets him get away with it.

Doesn't it stand to reason that he's lying about putting another team in Seattle? Think about it. He'd love for us to just let Clay walk away. Lying to get us to drop our only leverage is the most economical way for Stern to get out of the mess he's created. Seattle loses its leverage, and he no longer has to worry about expansion or relocation deals.

Stern has been caught lying again and again. The only way we can even think we'll have a team is if we force the bastard to put it in writing.

So we FORCE him to put it in writing. And if he won't, we enjoy making his life hell. I'm ordinarily against torture and the death penalty, but I'd make an exception for David Stern. Put him on the stand under oath. Find compromising pictures of him and Bennett at an hourly hotel. Send said photographs to their wives. Anything. The prick is pursuing a scorched earth policy of his own, on his own initiative, and he's the aggressor. You can't play touch football when the other guy's playing tackle--and clubbing you over the head with a battle mace to boot--while accusing YOU of pursuing a scorched earth policy and whining, "Can't we all just get along?"

Bleed Stern and Bennett until they cry for mercy. They've proven they won't keep their promises. Even if you're willing to cheer for a team stolen from another city, even if you can invest your emotions in a team after Stern has smacked you in the face and said "There now, you upity little fan, no NBA for you unless you tax yourselves silly and hand all the revenues over to the NBA," you've got to realize that Stern, like Saddam Hussein, Mussolini, and other power-mad egomaniacs, will only turn around, high-five Bennett, and run off with team never to be heard from again if we drop our suit.

So make these piles of human waste suffer as much as possible. It's the only way we'll have a shot at keeping our team, or any team. And if we can't pry their filthy hands off our basketball team, at least we can enjoy their pain. You know they secretly get off on ours.

Anonymous said...

You had your chance to keep the Sonics but Seattle city officials and state legislators failed to unite behind a plan to renovate KeyArena so you lose them.

So you can cry and be mad at Oklahoma city but you lost them