Fighting for the Sonics
Clay Bennett’s bid to bring the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City has hit a muddy road, and that’s not at all surprising. Cities are not quick to let go of their major-league franchises.
Seattle went to court to force the Sonics to adhere to the lease that keeps the NBA team at KeyArena through spring 2010, and that’s to be expected. Few cities are glad to see major-league franchises gone. From what I’ve read, Charlotte was so disgusted with George Shinn, it said good riddance to the Hornets in 2001, but that kind of attitude is rare. Most cities will call out all options to keep their teams.
Going to court was a solid move for Seattle. Think this through. A judge is to decide whether a civil matter belongs in a civil court, his or someone equal to him, or before a panel of arbiters. Seems like a home-court advantage. Civil courts aren’t overworked like criminal courts. Give a district court judge a chance to get rid of cases, and he jumps at it. A civil-court judge has no such motivation.
So the Sonics will have to prove their case before a judge and likely won’t. And frankly, that’s OK. I’m no expert, and I could read that lease 50 times and make no more sense of it than I know now, but you have to assume it’s pretty clear. The franchise agreed to play at KeyArena through 2010. What’s unclear about that?
Here’s what must happen if the Sonics want to leave for Oklahoma City after this season. They must negotiate their way out of the lease. If you break the lease, you’ve broken a contract. The lease is binding. So negotiate. Let Seattle know that you are leaving one way or the other, if not now then in 2010, so let’s talk.
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