Seattle and the Sonics
Clay Bennett's announcement today that he is asking the NBA for permission to move the Sonics to Oklahoma City is a key moment in an increasingly...
Clay Bennett's announcement today that he is asking the NBA for permission to move the Sonics to Oklahoma City is a key moment in an increasingly hostile relationship between Sonics owners and city leaders.
February 1994: Seattle leaders agree to renovate the old Seattle Coliseum to meet the demands of the Sonics. In exchange for the city issuing 20-year bonds to pay for the $100 million renovation, the Sonics agree to a 15-year lease.
July 2006: Clay Bennett leads a group of Oklahoma City-based businessmen to buy the Sonics and Storm for $350 million from Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz's local ownership group. He pledges a "good faith" effort to keep the teams in Seattle.
November 2006: Seattle voters overwhelmingly approve an initiative hostile to the Sonics, which severely restricts any city tax subsidies for professional sports teams.
April 2007: State Legislature rejects Sonics' proposal to build a $500 million arena in Renton, paid for mostly with an extension of taxes currently paying off Safeco and Qwest fields. In response, Bennett threatens to relocate Sonics and Storm after next season.
August 2007: Sonics part-owner Aubrey McClendon confirms the suspicions of many Sonics fans when he tells an Oklahoma newspaper "we didn't buy the team to keep it in Seattle; we hoped to come here." The NBA later announces it will fine McClendon $250,000 for the remark.
Sept. 10: Seattle City Council votes 8-0 to strictly enforce the Sonics' KeyArena lease, rejecting any early buyout.
Sept. 13: Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels enlists former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton to help enforce the KeyArena lease. Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis says the city is "lawyering up" and is ready to spend $1 million on legal fees.
Sept. 21: Sonics owners file for arbitration on KeyArena, seeking approval to pay a cash settlement instead of playing out the final two years on the team's lease.
Sept. 24: Seattle files lawsuit seeking to block the Sonics' arbitration move and hold the Sonics to the KeyArena lease through 2010.
Nov. 2: Sonics and Storm owner Clay Bennett announced today he is filing with the NBA for permission to move the Sonics to his hometown of Oklahoma City. He said the Storm may stay in Seattle.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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