Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who leads the Seattle-based group that is interested in buying the Sonics, has placed a deadline on Washington state lawmakers to approve the state’s needed $75 million in the $300 million financial plan to remodel KeyArena. The Seattle Times has the story here.
You can read Ballmer’s letter to Washington leaders here.
Under the plan, Ballmer and his group would pay $150 million and the city of Seattle and state would each pay $75 million toward the project. Ballmer’s group would also attempt to buy the Sonics from the Oklahoma-based ownership group or purchase a replacement team if one becomes available in the event the Sonics relocate to Oklahoma City. Sonics chairman Clay Bennett maintains that his franchise is not for sale.
In the article, Ballmer says the $150 million in private money will go away if lawmakers don’t authorize a taxpayer contribution by April 10, before the NBA Board of Governors meets in New York on April 17-18.
“We will need to go back to our other responsibilities and our offer will expire,” Ballmer wrote in a letter to Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire.
Washington legislative leaders are leery of approving the proposal on such short notice. The plan was announced last Thursday and the end of the legislative session is this Thursday. Gregoire as well as several legislative leaders have said that a financing option might be viable next year, when it could include other projects under a broader package of King County taxes such as low-income housing, the arts, Puget Sound cleanup and a renovation of Husky Stadium at the University of Washington.