Oklahoma City officials unveiled details today of an agreement with Seattle SuperSonics owners to host the team at the Ford Center. The letter of intent will serve as the basis for a lease with the team.
If the team can't break its lease, it would still move to Oklahoma City, but not until 2010. The Sonics would pay $1.6 million in annual rent at the Ford Center and $100,000 annual rent for a practice facility the city will build as part of a recent sales tax initiative. Voters approved a one-cent sales tax March 4 which will pay for the $20 million practice facility and about $101 million in improvements to the Ford Center. The agreement also calls for the team to pay $409,000 annually for naming rights to the Ford Center, which is the same amount the city is set to receive from Ford absent any agreement with an NBA team. The team would keep any revenues from naming rights above that amount. Oklahoma City would keep revenues from other events at the Ford Center, including concerts, Big 12 or NCAA basketball tournaments and other events. The agreement also allows the team to break the lease if attendance falls below certain benchmarks, provisions similar to NBA lease agreements in New Orleans and Charlotte. City Manager Jim Couch said the agreement is a good deal for the city and fair to the team. An NBA relocation committee is scheduled to visit Oklahoma City March 25 and NBA owners are set to vote next month on the Sonics' application to relocate to Oklahoma City. The city hopes to have a full lease agreement in place before the owners vote. NBA letter of intent