Mayor declares victory for Ford Center upgrades

By Bryan Dean and John Estus Modified: March 5, 2008 at 9:46 am •  Published: March 5, 2008
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> “Congratulations to Mayor Cornett and the City Council for their visionary leadership,” Bennett said. “Thanks to the Oklahoma City chamber and the business community for their unwavering support and guidance. Above all, we are grateful to the citizens of Oklahoma City for their continued commitment to excellence.”

The team is leaving Seattle because the city has refused to publicly finance a new arena.

The SuperSonics still face hurdles in leaving Seattle. The city has sued to force the Sonics to honor their lease in Seattle’s Key Arena, which extends through 2010.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has said the team leaving Seattle is an “inevitability.”

Oklahoma City officials have touted the potential relocation of an NBA team to Oklahoma City as an economic development tool that will help move the city forward as it competes regionally with cities like Dallas and Kansas City.

“It sets the stage for potentially something bigger,” Cornett said, referencing the likely arrival of an NBA team. “We’ve done what we need to do to continue to impress that NBA relocation committee.”

If the NBA does not locate a team here, the sales tax will last through Dec. 31, 2009, raising about $100 million for Ford Center improvements. The practice facility would not be built.

Cornett has also promoted the improvements as a way to keep the Ford Center competitive with newer arenas when vying for events.

“I’m thrilled that the voters believe in the future of Oklahoma City,” Cornett said. “This assures that we’re going to be competitive in getting Big 12 events and NCAA events, concerts and conventions. The improvements are going to be fabulous. I can’t wait for the people to see them.”

Contributing: Staff Writers Berry Tramel and Michael Kimball

Bryan Dean: 475-3206, bdean@oklahoman.com

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