Now or later: Sonics hold all the cards
In OKC this summer? Great, but there are advantages to waiting

by Berry Tramel Published: March 19, 2008
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Bu
t he also can't be excited about writing another huge check. He's been writing a bunch of those. To buy the franchise, to fund an arena proposal, to fight Seattle in court.

What if Bennett says, fine. The Sonics will stay two more years.

Stay two more years and leave in 2010 without paying a red-dirt cent. Leave Seattle with a debt payment on suddenly-vacant KeyArena.

Stay two more years and let this revamped Sonic roster grow into a competitive team, which it is not now but should be in 2010.

Stay two more years and slowly lay the foundation in Oklahoma City for marketing and promotion and business, rather than the big-bang process that will be needed if the Sonics suddenly escape the lease between now and July.

Stay two more years and allow the Ford Center renovation to be completed without having to hammer and nail around NBA games, so that the Oklahoma City Sonics can debut in their glittering new home.

Is that the way Bennett prefers to bring the Sonics here? I doubt it. I assume he would like to go ahead and launch. The Sonics will lose a ton of money if they have to stay two more years, although it might not be much more than he would have to pay to escape the lease.

But clearly, there are advantages to waiting.

Meanwhile, Seattle's only advantage to waiting is spite and desperate hope.

Spite loses its savor when you realize Bennett's options. Desperation has its merits. Sports history is full of midnight deals that kept teams. But that's a serious gamble. Is Seattle willing to assume a debt on KeyArena, in hopes of convincing Oklahoma City owners to not take a team to Oklahoma City when NBA owners have given the green light?

Doesn't seem prudent.

So the Sonics very well might stay in Seattle two more years. Which is one more reason why they might not.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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