Sonics' move now more reality than fantasy

by Jenni Carlson Published: March 15, 2008
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The Sonics are oh-so-close to coming to Oklahoma City.

So close, in fact, that the folks at City Hall are trying to figure out where Kevin Durant is going to park.

Friday afternoon, the city announced that it has signed a letter of intent with the Sonics. The 16-page document spells out the framework of a lease that will be hammered out later.

Think of it as a promise ring.

Does anyone do those anymore?

Maybe not, but that's what this is. The Sonic owners and the city leaders intend to make this union legal at a later, unknown time.

It's unknown because the Sonics still face uncertainty in Seattle. Their arena lease with the Emerald City runs through the 2009-10 season, and even though Clay Bennett and Co. want to buy their way out of that deal, city leaders want them to fulfill the terms.

A federal court case is pending.

And yet, the wheels continue to turn in Oklahoma City.

First came the Sonics' application for relocation to Oklahoma City. Then came the January call for an election to renovate the Ford Center. Then came the March vote that overwhelmingly approved the tax for the upgrades.

Still, something about those events made the future of the NBA in OKC seem more dream than reality. Pie-in-the-sky hopes and shoot-for-the-moon expectations abounded. Tangible evidence of a Sonics' move was in short supply.

Those hard-and-fast facts came Friday.

I could quote you all sorts of numbers, the 15-year term of the lease, the $1.64 million that the Sonics will pay the city annually to use the Ford Center, the $100,000 they will pay annually to use the yet-to-be-built practice facility, the $409,000 in naming rights fees that the city will receive annually from the club.


by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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