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View Full Version : Seattle Sonics sold to Oklahoma Group...may move3 to OKC


Drbio
07-18-2006, 11:43 PM
SEATTLE -- A group from Oklahoma City has agreed to buy the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=sea) and the WNBA's Seattle Storm.
The new owners have set a 12-month deadline to reach a new arena deal with Seattle officials -- something the teams' previous owners didn't accomplish in two years. After that, the new owners gain the option to move the team to Oklahoma.
Until then, Seattle, come support your teams!
That's the conflicting message Northwest basketball fans took away from Tuesday's announcement that the Basketball Club of Seattle, headed by Starbucks Corp. chairman Howard Schultz, will sell the teams for $350 million to the Professional Basketball Club LLC, headed by Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett.
"This isn't how we wanted to go out," Schultz said of the decision to sell the city's oldest major league professional sports franchise -- which began play in 1967 -- to an out-of-towner.
He said he turned down higher offers from potential buyers that he felt would move the team immediately. Some earlier offers were known to have been from San Jose, Calif., and Kansas City, Mo.
Bennett is the president of Oklahoma City investment firm Dorchester Capital. He was key to temporarily moving the New Orleans Hornets to his city following Hurricane Katrina. He told a Tuesday afternoon news conference at his new team's training facility that whether the Sonics remain in Seattle beyond 2007 would depend on whether the team can reach an agreement with the city to replace or renovate KeyArena.

The arena was remodeled in 1994-95 and the Sonics have a lease until 2010 with the city. The team and NBA commissioner David Stern both have said that lease is the league's most unfavorable to a team and must be changed -- or better yet, a new place must be built with a new lease -- for the teams to remain viable in the region.
"It is not our intention to move or relocate the teams -- as long, of course, as we are able to negotiate a successor venue to the current basketball arena and arrangements to ensure the Sonics and Storm can succeed," Bennett said.
His crewcut hair and square, jutted jaw conveyed a bottom-line persona.
So did his words -- but only when he was pressed on what would happen if he and his partners, who have no known Washington ties, can't reach an agreement in 12 months with local politicians.
"If we weren't able to find a successor facility and relative lease by then, we have the option contractually to ... evaluate our position," Bennett said, pausing to choose his final words carefully.
To many Seattle fans, that already reads: Oklahoma SiloSonics and Oklahoma Dust Storm.
In February, upon the formation of his investor group in Oklahoma City, Bennett declared: "The bottom line is, we want a team for this market."
Seattle resident Aaron Morris, 18, stood a few yards away from the Sonics' facility as Bennett spoke. Morris said he attends a few Sonics games a year when he can afford it and watches the games on television.
He was holding a homemade, cardboard sign that read: "39 years ... out the window??"
Friend Ben Conway, also 18 and from Seattle, was standing next to him wearing a green, Sonics Shawn Kemp (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=176) throwback jersey with a white T-shirt pulled over his face and head -- he said to represent the gravity of the day.
Conway's sign: "Don't sell my childhood to OK City."
A seemingly dejected Schultz said he came to realize he had to sell the team in the last 30 days. But he used the words "in Seattle" at least a dozen times while discussing the team's long-term future under Bennett.
When asked what he would tell a Seattle kid who loves the Sonics, Schultz said: "I told my children, and children of those I know, that I did this obviously with concern and trepidation. But I believe strongly this new group has a commitment to staying, provided elected officials meet him halfway.
"I do not believe the team is moving."
Even Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, speaking from his city, joined the cautious chorus.
"I think it's presumptuous to assume that Clay Bennett and his ownership group won't own that Seattle team for a long, long time in Seattle or somewhere else. It's presumptuous to assume they're going to move that franchise to Oklahoma City," Cornett said. "I understand that people are going to say that seems to be a likely scenario, but that's just speculation."
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels pledged to work with Bennett.
"We're going to try and work with Mr. Bennett and his group," Nickels said. "I think they're going to see Seattle is a great place to do business. And hopefully their team will do well on the court and the combination of those will allow us to have an extension of the lease beyond 2010.
"We have been providing very specific offers to the Sonics. We think it's an important part of our community. Those are still on the table."
And Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a statement, "I am encouraged that the new owners want to stay in the state. I have worked with Mayor Nickels and the City Council and hoped that the teams would stay in Key Arena because I have been concerned about the long-term viability of the Seattle Center."
Schultz said city and state officials should realize now that the Sonics really may leave Seattle.
"If the city didn't believe we'd potentially move the team, we obviously have a group now that does have an out," Schultz said. "But that's not what [the new owners] want to do."

nashtymavsfan13
07-18-2006, 11:47 PM
Mayor: Sale doesn't mean Sonics coming to Oklahoma City

By JEFF LATZKE, AP Sports Writer
July 18, 2006

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Mayor Mick Cornett cautioned Tuesday that the purchase of the Seattle SuperSonics by an Oklahoma City businessman does not necessarily mean that the NBA franchise will relocate to the city.

"I think it's presumptuous to assume that Clay Bennett and his ownership group won't own that Seattle team for a long, long time in Seattle or somewhere else. It's presumptuous to assume they're going to move that franchise to Oklahoma City," Cornett said. "I understand that people are going to say that seems to be a likely scenario, but that's just speculation."

Bennett was the leader of a group that sought to buy a minority stake in the New Orleans Hornets, who temporarily relocated to Oklahoma City after Hurricane Katrina.

Upon the formation of his investor group in February, Bennett said: "The bottom line is, we want a team for this market."

But on Tuesday, he had a different message. He told a Seattle news conference that he would keep the team in Seattle if an agreement could be reached for a new arena. In a news release, Bennett said he hoped the Sonics would succeed in Seattle for "decades to come."

"Owning an NBA franchise and a world-class facility in this market is a good place to be," Bennett said. "That said, as you know, I certainly hope that in time, Oklahoma City gets a team, and I think we will."

Bennett said the new ownership group has a "12-month commitment" to Seattle, in which it will attempt to negotiate for a new arena. He said the group was "sincere" but would evaluate its other options if an agreement for a new arena wasn't reached in that time frame.

"I think everything's on the table after that year, and if we run out of all our options, I'd love to have the team in Oklahoma City," Bennett said.

"Certainly Oklahoma has become clearly a viable NBA market."

Bennett, the president of Oklahoma City investment firm Dorchester Capital, was vital to the city's effort to bring the Hornets to the city. He led a group of investors who provided one-third of a $10 million promise to the Hornets if they did not meet or surpass their revenue from 2004-05 by at least 5 percent last season.

Instead, the Hornets easily exceeded their revenue benchmark, and the city will share some of the profits.

"Clay is smart. He's got the means to make things happen, he's got good connections, he's trustworthy," Cornett said. "I have high expectations of him and he meets them."

Ed Evans, who was part of another group that unsuccessfully tried to purchase the Washington Nationals baseball team, said Bennett's group met earlier this year and decided that Bennett would pursue buying the Hornets while Evans looked into the Sonics.

Eventually, the group decided it wanted a controlling stake in a franchise, something Hornets owner George Shinn was unwilling to offer.

"The goal is we want to own an NBA franchise. We're not overly particular about where it is, frankly," Evans said. "It'd be great to get a team in Oklahoma City. If it's this team, wonderful. If it's not, another team at some point in time, that will be fine."

Evans said he was "pretty confident" that Oklahoma City would have an NBA franchise within the next five years.

"I don't know if it's this team, I don't know if it's the Hornets. I don't know if it's another team or an expansion franchise, but I will tell you that the way the city of Oklahoma City has responded to the Hornets in that city clearly indicates the ability of that town to support an NBA franchise," Evans said.

The Hornets, who will play 35 games in Oklahoma City this season before returning to New Orleans in 2007-08, don't anticipate the announcement having any impact on the team.

"It doesn't change anything," said Michael Thompson, the Hornets' director of corporate communications. "Our goal, our plan from day one has been to return to New Orleans."

Thompson said season-ticket sales in Oklahoma City are projected to exceed last year's totals, when the team sold out half of its 36 games at the Ford Center, and the Hornets are working on extending agreements with sponsors in the city.

"One of my concerns about what's happening today is that it will take our focus off of the Hornets and all of the great things that have been going on here, and it shouldn't," Cornett said.

The Hornets provided the city's first chance to prove it could succeed as the host of a major league franchise and now "we have proven that we are an NBA city," Cornett said.

"We need to continue to support the Hornets franchise with everything we've got," he added. "That hasn't changed."

#1MavsFan
07-19-2006, 12:54 AM
Ouch, this really hurts the NBA. If a team in a major city like Seattle can be moved than just about anyone could be. The Key Arena sells out most of it's games and the fans spend money so this really makes you scratch your head. However the team is in a tough contract with the city of Seattle since they get a small portion of the revenue generated from the games and the city refues to renovate the arena. Seattle needs to fix this if they plan on having an NBA team after 2010. I remember the Arena was supposed to get fixed up but some activist group got enough signatures to prevent that. The way it's looking, Seattle won't have a team by 2010 since thats when the arena lease expires.

Why would OKC based businessmen buy a team located in Seattle thats having arena troubles ? Easy. They're looking to move it to their hometown which just happens to be seeking a nba team. This reminds me of the "Vancouver Grizzles" situation, except this time a popular nba team is in the mix.

The NBA needs to fix this and fast.

dude1394
07-19-2006, 06:16 AM
Ouch, this really hurts the NBA. If a team in a major city like Seattle can be moved than just about anyone could be. The Key Arena sells out most of it's games and the fans spend money so this really makes you scratch your head. However the team is in a tough contract with the city of Seattle since they get a small portion of the revenue generated from the games and the city refues to renovate the arena. Seattle needs to fix this if they plan on having an NBA team after 2010. I remember the Arena was supposed to get fixed up but some activist group got enough signatures to prevent that. The way it's looking, Seattle won't have a team by 2010 since thats when the arena lease expires.

Why would OKC based businessmen buy a team located in Seattle thats having arena troubles ? Easy. They're looking to move it to their hometown which just happens to be seeking a nba team. This reminds me of the "Vancouver Grizzles" situation, except this time a popular nba team is in the mix.

The NBA needs to fix this and fast.


Looks to me that it's not in the NBA's purview to fix it, but in the voters of seattle to fix it.

TripleDipping
07-19-2006, 08:35 AM
OKC Sonics? Sounds weird...

#1MavsFan
07-19-2006, 04:57 PM
Looks to me that it's not in the NBA's purview to fix it, but in the voters of seattle to fix it.
Yeah, but that just makes a bigger mess since most of the voters there are bandwagon fans. OKC Sonics just sounds so wrong.

MavKikiNYC
07-19-2006, 05:42 PM
Soonics?

EricaLubarsky
07-19-2006, 07:07 PM
OKC Sonics? Sounds weird...
Tricities Blackhawks->Milwaukee Hawks->St. Louis Hawks
Buffalo Braves->San Diego Clippers
Minneapolis Lakers
Vencouver Grizzlies
New Orleans Jazz
Chicago Packers->Chicago Zephyrs->Baltimore Bullets->Capitol Bullets->Washington Bullets
Dallas Chaparrals

Can you name what these teams became?

anyway, every time a team changes city its strange, and Oklahoma city showed that it could support a hometeam. I wish them good luck with that.

Drbio
07-19-2006, 07:58 PM
Tricities Blackhawks->Milwaukee Hawks->St. Louis Hawks
Buffalo Braves->San Diego Clippers
Minneapolis Lakers
Vencouver Grizzlies
New Orleans Jazz
Chicago Packers->Chicago Zephyrs->Baltimore Bullets->Capitol Bullets->Washington Bullets
Dallas Chaparrals

Can you name what these teams became?

anyway, every time a team changes city its strange, and Oklahoma city showed that it could support a hometeam. I wish them good luck with that.

Tricities Blackhawks->Milwaukee Hawks->St. Louis Hawks ->Atlanta Hawks
Buffalo Braves->San Diego Clippers ->LA Clippers
Minneapolis Lakers -> LA Lakers
Vencouver Grizzlies -> Memphis Grizzlies
New Orleans Jazz -> Utah Jazz
Chicago Packers->Chicago Zephyrs->Baltimore Bullets->Capitol Bullets->Washington Bullets -> Washington Wizards
Dallas Chaparrals San Antonio Spurts

Or was this merely hypothetical?