Sonics fans ask: ‘What to do, what to do?' With team's future up in the air, no one seems to know
By Darnell Mayberry •
Published: November 2, 2007
Brian Robinson's Blackberry Pearl buzzes every three minutes while sitting at a table for two along the windows at a North Seattle Panera Bread. He answers a call before excitedly passing the phone to a business partner and informing him they've scored eight lower bowl tickets to the home opener.
Robinson, the co-founder of Save Our Sonics and Storm, wants his teams to stay. He's been an on-again-off-again season ticket-holder for the past 12 years and has united more than 6,000 others like him to fight the good fight.
"This town is not really a stand up and shout for what you believe in type of town,” said Robinson, a 34-year-old real estate developer. "But there are a huge amount of people here who care. The question is how do you find the people who care and want to do something about it?
"Dave (Mahler) is a perfect example. He could rally people if he wanted to. He's sitting back and waiting for something to happen. So I'm starting to become a little more critical of people who care but don't do anything. I want the Sonics in Seattle.”
Chris Van Dyk is at the opposite end of the spectrum. The 56-year-old Bainbridge Island resident is the founder of Citizens for More Important Things. Van Dyk has lobbied local politicians to vote against publicly funding any more pro sports venues.
"I believe in free markets,” Van Dyk said. "I believe in a free country. And I believe that (Sonics chairman) Clay Bennett should be free to take his toy wherever he wants to go. The only thing that I don't believe is free is tax dollars to subsidize people who don't need it.
"These people do not belong on welfare. And if the citizens of Oklahoma City think it's a good deal to put a bunch of overpaid bums on welfare, including Clayton Bennett, that's their mistake.”
"Hope is a better word.”
George Petrovich was second in a line of two at the ticket window outside of KeyArena. The 36-year-old auto detailer lives 10 blocks from the arena and only wants to be part of it.
"It's kind of hard for a lot of people here because most people want them to stay, yet most people know they can't do anything about it other than to support the team,” said Petrovich, wearing sunglasses over his blue Seahawks cap. "Whether you like the ownership group or not, support the players and the team.
"It'll look bad for us, especially during a nationally televised game, if they turn the cameras on and it's two people in the stands. That's the way I look at it, and that's the reason I'm down here trying to buy tickets.”
Jeremy Owen, the team's director of merchandising, said on-line sales are up 43 percent compared to last October. The majority of those orders are from Durant's native Washington D.C.-metro area and Texas, where Durant starred for a year in college with the Longhorns.
"I can't even remember the last order we've received from Oklahoma,” Owen said. "Maybe two or three weeks ago. It's pretty sporadic. It's nothing like people might think it would be. It's been pretty quiet.”
Fans in Seattle seem to want to root for the Sonics, specifically Durant, but fear becoming too attached. Durant's jerseys, Owen said, are one of the hottest sellers in the team shop located just outside of KeyArena.
Petrovich rues the day he might see Durant blossom into an All-Star while leading his Sonics to the playoffs — in Oklahoma City.
"I would like to think, hope is a better word, that when this team becomes a playoff-caliber team, they're becoming it here, not there,” Petrovich said. "I still think it'll happen. But a lot of things have to be solved, and there a lot of court battles yet to go.”