Why am I not surprised that news continues to come out of Seattle surrounding the Sonics’ situation? In Saturday’s editions of The News Tribune, a report citing an unnamed source outlined what Sonics managing partner Clay Bennett apparently told Sonics employees during his trip to Seattle earlier this week. The source tells the paper that Bennett said Oklahoma City is ready to foot the bill for the Sonics to relocate next season.
The reporters reached Bennett late Friday night, and he didn’t deny the report, saying only the statements were a hypothetical example of how a community that is interested in relocating a business might pay some of its mitigation costs.
But the article spells out what Bennett apparently told employees about what OKC is willing to pay, which includes:
* Any legal fees involving the team’s fight to break the KeyArena lease.
* Whatever the settlement is to the Seattle Center to buy out of the lease.
* All relocation fees the NBA would force the team to pay other owners.
* Costs of physically moving the team’s staff and offices.
* Costs of upgrading the Ford Center to make it NBA-ready.
* Costs of building a new arena, and when it’s finished, keeping the old facility running.
Bennett said his comments were in response to a question about how could Oklahoma City possibly be a competitive market to Seattle.
“The response was an attempt to provide some clarity as (to) why it is so important that Seattle respond and recognize at once that the team is at risk,” Bennett told The News Tribune. ”Without a successor venue at KeyArena, and without a modern facility, the team cannot remain economically viable in this marketplace.
“Our deal has never changed. On July 18, 2006, we outlined very clearly what needs to happen in order to keep the team economically viable in the marketplace, and we are continuing in the pursuit of that objective.”
My question for Bennett at his point would be for what?
If OKC is indeed willing to pay for all that, pack your bags. And something tells me, if Bennett and his partners know that OKC is indeed willing to give that much, half their bags are already packed.
- Darnell Mayberry