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Oklahoma City Thunder: Basketball's return to Seattle could have affected Thunder pocketbook

Thunder ownership group might have had to make $30 million payment to city of Seattle.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: January 9, 2013

The NBA could be on the verge of returning to the Seattle.

According to a report Wednesday, a Washington-based group is closing in on a deal to purchase the Sacramento Kings with the intent of relocating the franchise to Seattle for the 2013-14 season.

So how does the possibility of basketball being back in Seattle affect the Thunder?

Thunder chairman Clay Bennett in April 2011 was appointed chairman of the relocation committee. He's joined by Miami owner Micky Arison, Indiana owner Herb Simon, Philadelphia owner Ed Snider, San Antonio owner Peter Holt, Utah owner Greg Miller and Minnesota owner Glen Taylor. In order for the Kings to move to Seattle, the franchise must first gain approval from Bennett and the board. In other words, the man who was reviled for “ripping the Sonics from Seattle,” is now one of the men in charge of returning the NBA to the city.

If Seattle acquired another NBA team through relocation or expansion by 2013, the Thunder would have had to pay the city of Seattle $30 million as part of the settlement between the two sides. But another stipulation precludes the Thunder from making that payment even if the Kings relocate to Seattle. The Washington state legislature would have had to authorize $75 million in funding for Seattle's KeyArena by the end of 2009 in order for the Thunder to be on the hook for that payment. That did not happen. So even if the Kings move this summer, the Thunder's ownership group will retain a $30 million payment that would have gone to the city of Seattle.

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