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Saturday, July 29, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Storm Notes: Fans turn out to save the team

Seattle Times staff reporter

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KeyArena turned into a political forum on Friday.

Organizers of saveourstorm.org and saveoursonics.org rallied to print fliers and signs to hand out to the crowd in support of the new Oklahoma City-based ownership group to not relocate Seattle's basketball teams.

Oklahoma City investment capitalist Clay Bennett heads the group of five primary owners who purchased the NBA Sonics and Storm for $350 million on July 18. The group intends to keep the teams in Seattle if they are successful in negotiating for a new arena within a 12-month period.

Bennett has also had discussions with the city of Bellevue about building a facility on the Eastside.

But the new owners entered negotiations with old opposition. Seattle City Council president Nick Licata proclaimed the Sonics don't offer any cultural value, and Citizens for More Important Things have gathered more than 20,000 signatures in hopes of getting Initiative 91 on the fall ballot, which would prohibit public subsidies of sports facilities if passed by voters.

"They have turned this argument into 'do we want to subsidize wealthy owners?' " said Brian Robinson, who heads the nonprofit Save Our Sonics and Storm group, including the two Web sites, along with Steve Pyeatt. "They've turned the argument away from the fans and citizens who just value the experience.

"This is not just about sports. It's about valuing things to do in our community. Museums, arts-and-craft fairs, and sporting events are things we all do together."

Player of the game: Shock All-Star Deanna Nolan made sure the Storm was scrambling to get back in the game, scoring 17 of her 23 points in the opening half.

Reserve of the game: Center Ashley Robinson had her best performance as a Storm player, totaling a career-high 13 rebounds in 29 minutes. She tallied 17 total this summer entering the game.

Digits: The Storm is 7-7 at home, the most losses since going 5-11 at KeyArena in 2001.

Next: Los Angeles at KeyArena, Sunday, 6 p.m.

Jayda Evans

Robinson had about 100 volunteers working to register voters and pass out informational fliers outside KeyArena on Friday. Donations enabled the group to have T-shirts made with the same message of keeping the teams in Seattle.

"A lot of people are affected by this, it's not just the team," said Storm coach Anne Donovan, whose team was welcomed home from its four-game road trip by about 30 Sonics and Storm employees on Wednesday. "It's nice to see the show of love and support."

Roadblocks make

Shock players late

Shock players arrived about 15 minutes late to KeyArena due to the shooting at the Jewish Federation in downtown Seattle. Roadblocks caused the team bus to be re-routed.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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