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Bennett a fan of proposed Ford Center improvements

By Darnell Mayberry Modified: February 1, 2008 at 3:29 pm •  Published: February 1, 2008

/> "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Seattle city officials have refused to fund a new building to replace the outdated KeyArena, and Bennett has rejected any proposed renovation to the building, which is the league's smallest venue and lacks space for adequate revenue sources.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.