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An empty feeling?
Sonics owner not planning to file for relocation

By John Rohde Published: February 23, 2007
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t those things are pretty much out of our control.”

Cornett said he and other city officials are monitoring the Hornets’ and Sonics’ situations closely, but they are little more than observers at this point.

“We stay in touch with the NBA and the people involved, but it’s all going to evolve beyond our ability to do much about it,” Cornett said. “In neither market can we aggressively pursue a team because both have existing leases.”

The Hornets are under a lease agreement with New Orleans Arena through 2012. The Sonics are under lease with KeyArena in Seattle through 2010.

“Don’t underestimate what we’ve already done, and that’s prove ourselves as a success story in the NBA market,” Cornett said. “There’s really no story to tell. Both ownership groups are well-aware of our story and we’re aware of their circumstances.

“I’d love to know how it’s going to turn out. To a certain extent, I’m just a very interested observer.”

Bennett said he chatted several times with NBA commissioner David Stern during last weekend’s all-star activities in Las Vegas.

“He’s been very supportive,” Bennett said of Stern.

Asked about the Seattle situation, Stern told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “The new ownership has done so much, beyond what we could have hoped. They were very poorly treated at first. Everyone thought they were simply going to go in and wanted to move the team to Oklahoma City again. And they were disbelieved when they said they would like to keep it there.

“We’ve been around this track a long time and I hope it happens because Seattle has been a very good city for the NBA, and the Clay Bennett group, I think ... will continue to be great owners for the Sonics. I don’t see a role for me at this point.”

When an NBA team applies for relocation, the commissioner appoints a relocation committee, which studies the application and makes a recommendation to the league’s Board of Governors. The board then votes at its annual meeting in late October, with a simple majority needed for approval.

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"I don't think we believe we'll ever be in a position to choose ... those things are pretty much out of our control.”

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett

Where they stand

Sonics
They were purchased by a group of Oklahoma City businessmen led by Clay Bennett, who is trying to get a new arena deal approved. Bennett has said he would relocated if the deal isn't approved within a self-imposed one-year time period that began Oct. 31, 2006. The Sonics' lease with KeyArena in Seattle runs through 2010.

Hornets
They relocated to Oklahoma City 18 months ago and have averaged 18,362 in attendance in 55 games at the Ford Center. However, the team is set to make its return to New Orleans after this season, and its lease with New Orleans Arena goes through 2012.

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