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Sonics, Storm Sold To Oklahoma City Group


July 18, 2006


By Associated Press sonics_new_owner_071806.jpg


SEATTLE - A group from Oklahoma City has agreed to buy the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics and the WNBA's Seattle Storm.


The new owners have set a 12-month deadline to reach a new arena deal with Seattle officials - something the teams' previous owners didn't accomplish in two years. After that, the new owners gain the option to move the team to Oklahoma.


Until then, Seattle, come support your teams!


That's the conflicting message Northwest basketball fans took away from Tuesday's announcement that the Basketball Club of Seattle, headed by Starbucks Corp. chairman Howard Schultz, will sell the teams for $350 million to the Professional Basketball Club LLC, headed by Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett.


"This isn't how we wanted to go out," Schultz said of the decision to sell the city's oldest major league professional sports franchise - which began play in 1967 - to an out-of-towner.


He said he turned down higher offers from potential buyers that he felt would move the team immediately. Some earlier offers were known to have been from San Jose, Calif., and Kansas City, Mo.


Bennett is the president of Oklahoma City investment firm Dorchester Capital. He was key to temporarily moving the New Orleans Hornets to his city following Hurricane Katrina. He told a Tuesday afternoon news conference at his new team's training facility that whether the Sonics remain in Seattle beyond 2007 would depend on whether the team can reach an agreement with the city to replace or renovate KeyArena.


The arena was remodeled in 1994-95 and the Sonics have a lease until 2010 with the city. The team and NBA commissioner David Stern both have said that lease is the league's most unfavorable to a team and must be changed - or better yet, a new place must be built with a new lease - for the teams to remain viable in the region.


"It is not our intention to move or relocate the teams - as long, of course, as we are able to negotiate a successor venue to the current basketball arena and arrangements to ensure the Sonics and Storm can succeed," Bennett said.


His crewcut hair and square, jutted jaw conveyed a bottom-line persona.


So did his words - but only when he was pressed on what would happen if he and his partners, who have no known Washington ties, can't reach an agreement in 12 months with local politicians.


"If we weren't able to find a successor facility and relative lease by then, we have the option contractually to ... evaluate our position," Bennett said, pausing to choose his final words carefully.


To many Seattle fans, that already reads: Oklahoma SiloSonics and Oklahoma Dust Storm.


In February, upon the formation of his investor group in Oklahoma City, Bennett declared: "The bottom line is, we want a team for this market."


Seattle resident Aaron Morris, 18, stood a few yards away from the Sonics' facility as Bennett spoke. Morris said he attends a few Sonics games a year when he can afford it and watches the games on television.


He was holding a homemade, cardboard sign that read: "39 years ... out the window??"


Friend Ben Conway, also 18 and from Seattle, was standing next to him wearing a green, Sonics Shawn Kemp throwback jersey with a white T-shirt pulled over his face and head - he said to represent the gravity of the day.


Conway's sign: "Don't sell my childhood to OK City."


A seemingly dejected Schultz said he came to realize he had to sell the team in the last 30 days. But he used the words "in Seattle" at least a dozen times while discussing the team's long-term future under Bennett.


When asked what he would tell a Seattle kid who loves the Sonics, Schultz said: "I told my children, and children of those I know, that I did this obviously with concern and trepidation. But I believe strongly this new group has a commitment to staying, provided elected officials meet him halfway.


"I do not believe the team is moving."


Even Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, speaking from his city, joined the cautious chorus.


"I think it's presumptuous to assume that Clay Bennett and his ownership group won't own that Seattle team for a long, long time in Seattle or somewhere else. It's presumptuous to assume they're going to move that franchise to Oklahoma City," Cornett said. "I understand that people are going to say that seems to be a likely scenario, but that's just speculation."


Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels pledged to work with Bennett.


"We're going to try and work with Mr. Bennett and his group," Nickels said. "I think they're going to see Seattle is a great place to do business. And hopefully their team will do well on the court and the combination of those will allow us to have an extension of the lease beyond 2010.


"We have been providing very specific offers to the Sonics. We think it's an important part of our community. Those are still on the table."


And Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a statement, "I am encouraged that the new owners want to stay in the state. I have worked with Mayor Nickels and the City Council and hoped that the teams would stay in Key Arena because I have been concerned about the long-term viability of the Seattle Center."


Schultz said city and state officials should realize now that the Sonics really may leave Seattle.


"If the city didn't believe we'd potentially move the team, we obviously have a group now that does have an out," Schultz said. "But that's not what (the new owners) want to do."

I now believe some one has it out for the major sport teams of Seattle. By the way... could you all protest Starbucks with me because of this?

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It doesn't matter what you guys in Washington do. Both teams are gone. The new owners are quoted as saying that they want to get a team for the Oklahoma market. This so-called "negotiating" with Seatlle is just a delaying tactic that they are using while they are lining up funding for a new stadium in Oklahoma. Over here, we know full well how this stuff goes. Our beloved Baltimore Colts are now the Indianapolis Colts. Our Baltimore Bullits are now the Washington Wizards. Our Baltimore Clippers are now the Washington Capitals. The list goes on and on. The new owners will tell you that a lot will depend on how you support the team. This is pure BS. They just want to make the most money off of you before they leave. They have decades of statistics showing how you have supported your teams. The best thing to do is say goodbye now and not attend a single game. The end is inevitable so why put money in this guy's pocket? Let the teams play to empty stadiums until they move.

Edited by Kor37

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sry Capt. Now I am not a big NBA fan, but my Beloved Penguins are threating to move too, to no where else but either Kanas City or Seattle.......all i can is Hope they get approved to get a new arena, I had a passion for the AFL (Arena Football League) me and my dad had season tickets when they were here, they moved to Orlando and now have the most AFL titles of any team. I don't think pro teams should be allowed to move like this

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Our Baltimore Clippers are now the Washington Capitals.

Off-topic I know but that one isn't true. The Washington Capitals were an expansion NHL franchise in 1974, and the Baltimore Clippers were an AHL franchise that folded in 1975/1976. Aside from the single season Baltimore Blades of the WHA, I don't believe Baltimore has ever had a professional hockey team.


Of course, you could include the Baltimore Stallions that became the latest incarnation of the Montreal Alouettes in the CFL approximately 10 years ago.

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Had to post this!!!

The 'Schrammie' Goes To: Who Else? Howard Schultz


July 19, 2006


By Ken Schram ken_schram.jpg


SEATTLE - It's Wednesday.


That means "Schrammie", the unassuming bobble-headed award meant to convey my abject angst and or distinct displeasure over something that someone has done that, to me, is like jabbing a stick into the wheel of life.


This week's recipient is a business mogul who decided he just had to dabble in sports.


In the end, he ended up screwing the entire Puget Sound region, while raking in a ton of money in the process.


He's the new millennium version of Ken Behring, or Jeff Smulyan.


So, Howard Schultz, get your butt off the bench and come on down!


Howard may have to share this week's "Schrammie" with the rest of Sonics' ownership, who've decided to sell the area out by selling the team off.


Of course, the new owners promise to "try" and keep the Sonics right here.




Of course.


Just try to keep that song from rambling around in your head:


And when we say

Yeeow! Ayipioeeay!

We're only sayin'

You're doin' fine,


Oklahoma O.K.



Howard's hissy-fit fire-sale is the end result of his being unable to wring more money out of taxpayers to spruce up KeyArena.


Seattle city officials tried to financially placate the uber Mr. Coffee, but it had to be a double tall mocha -- with EXTRA whip -- or nothing.


Howard wins.


We lose.


So, take a bow Howard my man: This "Schrammie's" for you.


Want to share your thoughts with Ken Schram? You can e-mail him at

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