The situation between the Sonics and Seattle has become as ugly in the last few weeks as it’s ever been. You’ve got Mayor Greg Nickels and Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis talking tough about what they will and will not do for the Sonics, mainly how they won’t negotiate on a buyout of the lease. You’ve got Aubrey McClendon saying the group didn’t buy the teams to keep them in Seattle, comments he got fined $250,000 for by the NBA. And now you’ve got the City Council trying to strong arm the Sonics into honoring their lease until it expires in 2010 by passing a law that prohibits the city’s pro teams from getting out of their leases early.
It’s a mess. Ceis has called the situation “dysfunctional.”
But it’s Ceis’ comments in Friday’s editions of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that have caught my eye. Ceis calls this ordinance that the City Council is trying to pass “Window dressing.” According to Ceis, it means nothing.
In P-I columnist Art Thiel’s piece, linked above, he writes about asking Ceis whether the ordinance adds any type of reinforcement to the lease.
“I’m not sure it does,” Ceis is quoted as saying. Theil then poses the question, “So it’s just window dressing?”
“I’m sure it is,” Ceis says.
Ceis goes on to say: “It’s a communication to the fans, the league, the team, that we’re not interested in giving up and letting the team go.”
A more telling quote comes earlier in the piece when Ceis all but admits it’s not in the city’s best interest to force the Sonics to stay.
“We all are going to go down the drain together,” Ceis says. “The worse we make it for him (Bennett), the worse he makes it for us.”
History proves that sports franchises typically have the upper hand in these types of situations. But it sounds to me like the Deputy Mayor of Seattle is admitting that the Sonics have the upper hand in this battle. Which means all of the tough talk eventually means nothing.
In the end, Seattle will either put up or take a buyout. We’re just counting down the days and sifting through the window dressing.