Seattle may be warming to Sonics settlement

By Darnell Mayberry Modified: April 23, 2008 at 6:49 am •  Published: April 23, 2008
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spokesman for Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr declined to comment and said the Seattle City Attorney's office would no longer comment on the Sonics and instead focus on the pending litigation.

When asked about the possibility of the Sonics leaving and Seattle still having to pay off the arena debt, Seattle City Councilman Richard Conlin said, "That doesn't really help anybody does it?”

"We all need to work our way through the issues and talk to each other,” Conlin said. "Most lawsuits wind up getting settled. It's always possible to work out an agreement. Nobody really wants to go on paying lawyers and fighting lawsuits and getting involved in that kind of conflict if there's something that could be worked out that could meet everybody's needs.”

In mid-February, Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata, who was out of the country Tuesday and couldn't be reached for comment, also said he is open to a settlement.

"Basically everyone wants to keep as many options open as possible,” Licata told the P-I.

Gorton, who Stern accused along with Nickels of wanting to "exact whatever pound of flesh is possible,” said he is more interested in securing a permanent NBA franchise rather than keeping the Sonics in Seattle for two more years in a potentially financially damaging situation out of spite.

"If a replacement team is part of the package, of course we'd talk,” Gorton said. "My goal from the very beginning has been to have a team. Revenge, I'm not interested in as such. The city has a financial stake in all this. The mayor and I are in complete accord that what we want is a team.”

How the NBA guarantees Seattle a replacement team might be an issue. The league did so in Charlotte when the Hornets relocated to New Orleans in 2002 and the city was awarded the expansion Bobcats for the 2004-05 season. But NBA owners have voiced opposition to expanding to 32 teams, and guaranteeing the relocation of a struggling franchise seems improbable.

Stern didn't rule out the possibility of a replacement franchise in Seattle, however, following last Friday's vote by NBA owners to approve the Sonics relocation.

"The Board (of Governors) is mindful that Seattle is a first-class city whose fans historically have been terrific fans and still are, but whose infrastructure has not been willing to participate in an arena,” he said. "I guess what I would say, without going further, is that we're mindful that if Seattle had a first-class arena that would really be good for their prospects.”



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