Seattle SuperSonics chairman Clay Bennett gave a ringing endorsement to Oklahoma City's proposed $120 million arena improvement plan on Thursday, stating publicly for the first time that the upgrades would meet the Oklahoma-based ownership group's needs. "We think that it is exactly what we need for the foreseeable future,” Bennett said. "We believe this is the appropriate thing to do. We support it. We think that it will be a great building for a long time.” Bennett, speaking at Oklahoma City University about the Sonics and the business of sports, sounded as if it's only a matter of time before his team lands in Oklahoma City. Following his 45-minute discussion, Bennett said the Sonics ownership group is now concentrating its efforts on relocation since no new arena plan emerged in Seattle prior to his self-imposed Oct. 31 deadline. "The goal is to come to Oklahoma,” Bennett said. "In November, we applied for relocation.” The ownership group is scheduled to go to trial on June 16 with the city of Seattle to decide whether the team can fulfill the remaining two years of its arena contract through financial payments or must play in Seattle through the contract's expiration in September 2010. The NBA must also approve the move within 30 days of its seven-member relocation committee making a recommendation to the league's board of governors in mid-April. But a more immediate issue in Oklahoma's NBA future is a March 4 election for Oklahoma City residents to either approve or reject a one-cent sales tax to fund the arena project. Expected upgrades include sit-down restaurants and clubs, larger locker rooms, a larger team store, improved bathrooms and general visual upgrades to the 100 and 300 concourse levels' floors, walls and ceilings. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett has called the project's approval vital to Oklahoma's chances of becoming an NBA city. When asked about opposition by some citizens and city council members over the city including a $20-million, off-site practice facility to be used exclusively by the Sonics, Bennett pointed to the national trend of other markets typically doing the same. "It's a decision for each market to make,” Bennett said. Bennett explained that citizens see more of a return from arena upgrades than the team owners and therefore it's more logical for the public to finance the improvements. Examples of benefits Bennett mentioned included the team's presence creating more than 150 jobs as well as players, coaches and team executives boosting the local economy through spending. Bennett also referred to other intangible impacts the NBA would have on the community such as civic pride and helping Oklahoma become more attractive to other corporations looking to move. Bennett rejected the notion that it would be a mistake to relocate the Sonics from Seattle, the nation's 15th largest market, to Oklahoma City, the nation's 45th largest market. In what he referred to as the value of Oklahoma, Bennett touted Oklahoma City's growing economy and cited how the Sonics would be the only major league team in the state. He explained that government and city leaders have a connection with the team owners and have shown an understanding for the need of a modern arena with ample revenue sources and amenities. Bennett also said he thinks Oklahoma City leaders are likely to negotiate a favorable lease with the team for usage of the Ford Center. The Sonics are currently suffering from a lack of support on all of those fronts in Seattle. Seattle city officials have refused to fund a new building to replace the outdated KeyArena, and Bennett has rejected any proposed renovation to the building, which is the league's smallest venue and lacks space for adequate revenue sources. NBA Commissioner David Stern has also referred to the Sonics lease as the worst in the NBA.