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Sonics open talks with OKC, KC Sonics begin relocation talks
Bennett: City is likely destination if team leaves SeattleTeam's chairman says OKC likely destination if Sonics leave Seattle, but negotiations will include Kansas City

Pessimistic about getting a new arena, Bennett says if Sonics leave Seattle, “we’re likely headed to Oklahoma City.__8221__ But he remains concerned about the team’s potential long-term viability here or Kansas City.

by Berry Tramel Published: May 30, 2007
I'm probably as pessimistic as I've been. Not to say I've lost complete hope. We'll evaluate thoroughly any potential lead, but we're out of ideas.”

Bennett said he understands the opposition to public money for a new arena but has to do what's best for his franchise. The Washington legislature declined to allow King County to vote for a proposed arena that would need $350 million in tax money, mostly from tourism taxes already in place.

"It may be that this proposal doesn't fit the Seattle marketplace at this time,” Bennett said.

Hence the Sonics are looking elsewhere.

Bennett said he remains concerned about Oklahoma City's long-term viability as an NBA market but has concerns about Kansas City, too, which already has two major-league franchises.

In conjunction with the NBA, Bennett's group is beginning to study both markets and that no other city is being considered at this time.

Bennett said the lack of broadcasting revenue is the biggest drawback to Oklahoma City, and probably Kansas City, also.

Bennett cited an old banker's saying: "Bad loans are made in good times.”

In other words, another oil boom has Oklahoma City flush with prosperity.

"It won't stay like this forever,” Bennett said. "Will companies spend dollars in down times? We're testing all that.”

But Oklahoma City's two-year support of the Hornets, plus the cooperative relationship between Oklahoma City government and business leaders, still makes OKC attractive.

"I think we'll get there,” Bennett said of deciding Oklahoma City is the best relocation site. "But we'll do so with involvement from the league.”

In the same way that Bennett drove around Seattle, dreaming of the future, he also has driven through downtown Oklahoma City and entertained grand thoughts.

"I've thought about that for a long time,” Bennett said. "Years and years. Even as I've seen how well we've done, I see a lot more to come.

"Government and private business working together, working for the greater good. I believe in that concept as strongly as ever. It's what's setting Oklahoma City apart these days.” has disabled the comments for this article.
by Berry Tramel
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 Oklahoman,...
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