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Sonics / NBA

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 - Page updated at 01:10 PM

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NBA board approves sale of Sonics, Storm

Seattle Times staff reporter

NEW YORK — In a unanimous vote this afternoon, the NBA Board of Governors approved the sale of the Sonics and the WNBA Storm to The Professional Basketball Club (TPBC) LLC, headed by Clay Bennett and an eight-man group of Oklahoma City investors.

The $350 million sale will be finalized Oct. 31 when all funds have been transferred between the PBC and The Basketball Club of Seattle.

"We're pleased to greet Clay and the group, who met with a very enthusiastic advisory finance committee," NBA commissioner David Stern said. "Clay was greeted by a round of applause, which is an unusual endorsement in a professional sports league, but it was fun to watch.

On July 18, Bennett's group entered an agreement to purchase the Seattle teams.

"The process was very professionally done and very thorough," Bennett said. "We're honored to be a part of the league and look forward to getting involved in the business right away and look forward to getting to work in Seattle right away relative to a new building."

When the sale was announced July 18, Bennett put local and state lawmakers on notice when he gave them 12 months to help him secure a deal for a replacement to KeyArena or else he'd relocate to Oklahoma City.

Since that initial warning, Bennett softened his stance and has repeatedly said that he wants to keep the teams in the Seattle. But he has yet to define his plans.

Contractually, the Sonics are obligated to play at KeyArena until their lease expires after the 2009-10 season.

Bennett will now be able to address basketball-related topics, such as contract extensions for Rashard Lewis, Luke Ridnour and coach Bob Hill.

President and CEO Wally Walker, who flew to New York to represent the former ownership group that had been led by Howard Schultz, is also expected to learn his fate in the near future.

New Sonics owners Aubrey K. McClendon, G. Jeffrey Records, Jr. and Tom L. Ward also attended the two-day proceedings, which were held at the Essex House in Manhattan.

The other new Sonics owners are William Cameron, Bob Howard, Everett Dobson and Jay Scaramucci.

The first full day of ownership for TPBC of the Sonics and Storm will be Nov. 1, also the date of the Sonics' season opener at KeyArena against Portland.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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