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Tulsa glad to support Oklahoma City's NBA bid

By Murray Evans Published: April 22, 2008
a state franchise."

Cornett said 10 to 20 percent of the Sonics' ticket sales in Oklahoma City will come from the Tulsa area, and Taylor noted that it's "90 minutes door-to-door" from Tulsa to Oklahoma City. Those numbers are why Cornett said it only made sense to include Tulsa leaders as part of Oklahoma City's presentation to the NBA.

"When you talk to NBA owners, the idea of people driving 1½ hours to an NBA game is something they're comfortable with," Cornett said. Including Tulsa as part of the team's sphere of influence meant the owners would "see a larger metropolitan area that they're more comfortable with."

But just because the team will be marketed throughout Oklahoma does not mean that Oklahoma City officials aren't somewhat territorial, at least when it comes to how the team will be identified. Stern said Friday the team might consider using "Oklahoma" as its name, noting that "you really see a much larger market than just the Oklahoma City market."

Cornett quickly squashed such a notion, pointing out that Oklahoma City's signed lease with the Sonics stipulates that the team name be "Oklahoma City."

"We had allowed ourselves through the years to be branded through our tragedies," Cornett said. "I wanted Oklahoma City identified with something more positive ... to increase Oklahoma City's identity and branding, which had never been done before."

Taylor said she has no problem with the team calling itself "Oklahoma City."

"I understand that. I wouldn't want the Tulsa Drillers to be called the Oklahoma Drillers," she said, referring to her city's minor-league baseball team. "I know different states have dealt with that issue, but I think the most important thing is that Oklahoma has shown that it can be home to a major-league team. It's exciting for all of us."

Clay Bennett, the chairman of the Sonics' ownership group, said the team believes it should be named Oklahoma City, "but it will be an Oklahoma asset. It will be marketed statewide, and we believe it will be supported statewide."