View Full Version : The Sonics could relocate? What?

02-02-2006, 02:09 AM
SEATTLE -- Seattle SuperSonics principal owner Howard Schultz said Wednesday he'll look at all the options, including moving or selling the team, if the state Legislature fails to earmark $200 million for the Sonics to refurbish KeyArena or build a new home.

Schultz, who talked to reporters before the Sonics' game with the Golden State Warriors, said he's told team president Wally Walker to look at all the alternatives.

One would be moving the Sonics to a market known to be interested in acquiring an NBA franchise -- Las Vegas; Norfolk, Va., or Oklahoma City -- or to one of three cities -- Anaheim, Calif.; Kansas City, Mo., and San Jose, Calif. -- that have made overtures to Sonics officials, the team said in a statement.

Schultz didn't answer when asked whether he would still be involved in owning the team should it move to another city.

Another option could be building a privately financed new arena in the Seattle area, perhaps in suburban Bellevue, the team statement added.

"Our first choice has been and continues to be to stay here," said Schultz, chairman of Seattle-based Starbucks Corp. "We didn't set out five years ago to be in position to either move the team or sell it. But this is not a sustainable enterprise."

The Sonics are owned by a group of 58 investors, including Schultz. He said the owners of the Sonics and the WNBA Seattle Storm have lost almost $60 million since they purchased the team from the Ackerley family in 2001 for $200 million.

He said the owners have set March 9, the last day of this year's legislative session in the state capital of Olympia, as a deadline because the team would have to wait until next January to appeal to the Legislature again.

"We can't continue to lose $10 million a year," he said.

The Sonics have said the current revenue-sharing agreement with the city of Seattle at KeyArena has not produced the expected results.

Schultz said the Sonics owners were seeking an arena deal from the state similar to what the Seattle Mariners and Seattle Seahawks got.

"All we want is what the other two teams have already been given," Schultz said, referring to public money provided during the last decade to help fund new stadiums for the Mariners and the Seahawks.

The Mariners play at Safeco Field while the Seahawks play at Qwest Field.

In Olympia, measures have been introduced in the state House and Senate to extend taxes that have paid for Safeco Field to give the Sonics a new or improved home.

But those bills were introduced relatively late in the short session, and a key cutoff deadline is approaching.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, was unimpressed with Schultz's statement Wednesday night.

"We're always open to talking to organizations like the Sonics about their needs," she said. "But the Legislature doesn't appreciate ultimatums."

Brown, however, did not declare the stadium-funding proposals dead.

"Things pop up in a legislative session," she said."You can never pronounce something dead, and you can never say with certainty that it's going to make it."

State House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday night.