The first major development in the court case between the Sonics and the city of Seattle could emerge Thursday, finally providing some indication of whether the team will call Seattle or Oklahoma City home next year.
A Thursday hearing with oral arguments has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Seattle time, court records show, and will be heard by Judge Ricardo Martinez, a U.S. District Court Judge for the Western District of Washington. It will mark the first court appearance by each party's representatives since the city of Seattle filed its lawsuit against the team on Sept. 24.
The case's initial hearing was scheduled scheduled for Oct. 10 before Judge Harry McCarthy in King County Superior Court. But a day before the hearing, attorneys for the Sonics filed a motion to move the case to federal court.
Martinez called Thursday's hearing to begin determining whether the case will remain in court or should be allowed to be settled by a panel of arbitrators.
Seattle officials are arguing that the Sonics should not be allowed to vacate KeyArena until their Premises Use and Occupancy Agreement expires in 2010.