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Originally published April 9, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 9, 2008 at 12:05 PM

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Mark Cuban prefers Sonics in Seattle, not Oklahoma City

If Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had his way, the Seattle SuperSonics would stay put instead of moving to Oklahoma City.

The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — If Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had his way, the Seattle SuperSonics would stay put instead of moving to Oklahoma City.

Cuban doesn't think it's smart business to move a team to a smaller television market where he already sees a concentration of other franchises nearby.

"My prejudice is against having a Dust Bowl Division in this part of the country," Cuban told The Oklahoman. "I don't think in the big picture that helps the NBA. I think a bigger market helps the NBA.

"My preference is that they stay in Seattle. That's my preference."

The only owner to vote against the Hornets' move from Charlotte to New Orleans in 2002, Cuban still expects the SuperSonics' proposed relocation to be approved by his peers when NBA owners consider the move at their April 18 meeting.

"Like everything else in the NBA, it'll be 29-1," Cuban said. "Usually if (the relocation committee members) say it is (going to pass) then it is, but they've been wrong a whole lot lately."

Three members of the NBA relocation committee visited Oklahoma City last month to tour the Ford Center and watch a presentation from city officials. Commissioner David Stern said those three members would recommend approval of the move.

"I'm completely open-minded about it," Cuban said. "My prejudice is, I'd rather see (the Sonics in) a bigger market that's established. But if the (financial) numbers say otherwise or the information dictates otherwise then I'll do the smart thing. I've given up stuff that would help the Mavs and would help the NBA over and over and over again."

Heading into the meeting, Cuban doesn't believe adding another team to an area that already has teams in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Memphis is a good idea.

"I think that's bad for the league," Cuban said. "Because there's not enough TV weight. There's not enough demand from a TV perspective from outside that little area. It's nice, but when you've got San Antonio versus Dallas, which you'd think is a great marquee matchup, no one outside our area (cares). That's bad. You don't expand the market at all."

Cuban downplayed any possible impact a franchise in Oklahoma City would have on his bottom line and said that isn't a factor in his opposition to the SuperSonics' relocation.

"From an NBA perspective, they're all NBA fans," Cuban said. "It's not going to take any money out of my pocket. It's not like I'm not selling out every game anyway. It's not like people are going to come from Oklahoma City."

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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