If a suitable arena project in greater Seattle is not approved by Oct. 31, Seattle SuperSonics chairman Clay Bennett has said he intends to file for relocation to Oklahoma City on Nov. 1.
A year and a day after leading a new ownership group to buy the team — and after getting "no traction” toward building a new arena — a frustrated Bennett is calling for prompt action from the political, business and civic leadership of Seattle, King County and the state of Washington. "Basically, I'm pounding the table, reiterating everything we've said to date,” Bennett said. Bennett confirmed if he does file for relocation, he will request moving the Sonics to Oklahoma City and would not propose relocating to previously mentioned locales Kansas City, Las Vegas, Anaheim and San Jose. On Thursday, Bennett requested a meeting with Seattle mayor Greg Nickels to reaffirm his city will lose its team unless an acceptable multi-purpose facility is approved within the next 15 weeks. Nickels told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer he would "absolutely” meet with Bennett to discuss the Sonics' future. In a deal publicly announced July 18, 2006, Bennett's group purchased the Sonics and the WNBA Storm for $350 million. As part of the transaction that closed on Oct. 31, 2006, a one-year deadline was set to develop a suitable replacement for KeyArena, which is the NBA's smallest arena and a facility Bennett repeatedly has described as inadequate. On April 16, the Washington state legislature formally tabled a proposal that would have publicly helped fund a $500-million arena in the Seattle suburb of Renton, where Bennett offered to purchase a 21.2-acre parcel of land for the project. Approximately $350 million would have come from tax money, most of it from extending tourism taxes that already exist. "We were disappointed with the results at the Legislature and further disappointed at the lack of progress since the end of the session,” Bennett said in a statement released Thursday morning.