Storm will stay in town, for now
The Storm will play at least one more season in Seattle, which means two-time league MVP Lauren Jackson is more likely to return as well...
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Storm will play at least one more season in Seattle, which means two-time league MVP Lauren Jackson is more likely to return as well.
Sonics and Storm owner Clay Bennett asked for arbitration to clarify the Sonics' KeyArena lease with the city on Friday, but he also announced that the Storm would play here in 2008. There had been speculation that the Storm, and the Sonics, could be moved before the Storm began play next spring.
Jackson had said she would not honor the final year of her contract if the team relocated to Oklahoma City. Jackson, a native Australian who owns a condo in Seattle, is still trying to figure out how to manage playing in the 2008 Olympics next summer, however.
The WNBA will take a monthlong hiatus for the Beijing Games, but Jackson's national team might request she stay in Australia — and skip the WNBA season — to train with teammates.
"While Lauren wanted to take time to get away from the season to reflect, in the event the team was back here, she felt very confident that she would ultimately make the decision to come back," said Karen Bryant, the team's chief operating officer, of a conversation she had with Jackson during a downtown party to celebrate her MVP award this month.
Bryant said the previous uncertainty stalled 2008 season-ticket renewals. Now that it's clear the Storm will play an eighth season, renewals from the approximately 2,600 season-ticket holders are increasing. The deadline to renew is Oct. 1.
"I'd tried to convey to him [Bennett] all the opportunities that I thought were in front of us in terms of Storm sales and marketing efforts and what a great milestone it would be for us to be able to confirm 2008," Bryant said of a meeting she had with Bennett earlier this month. "I'm pleased that he took that to heart. This eliminates a huge level of anxiety and hypotheticals."
Bennett's comments on Friday still lean toward both teams relocating, however, because "nothing tangible" has been reached in a deal for a new arena.
Bennett hired attorneys to take the city of Seattle to arbitration, claiming their right to relocate despite signing a lease that obligates the Sonics to play at KeyArena through the 2010 season. And the eight-member ownership group is currently preparing its application to file a relocation request through the NBA; that needs to be completed around January 2008 in order to begin the 2008-09 NBA season in another city.
Bennett spoke highly of Oklahoma City "aspiring" to have an NBA team, and the Midwestern setting being "excited about women's basketball with Oklahoma and Courtney Paris," referring to the star center of the University of Oklahoma team. Yet he didn't negate the idea of operating the Storm in Seattle and the Sonics in Oklahoma City, should an arena arrangement not be reached.
"I'm very impressed with the passion of Storm fans," said Bennett, who said the passion probably does not exist to the same level in Oklahoma City. "There are a lot of committed Storm fans, and we hear from them."
Bennett said he's received plenty of proposals from local business people who want to get involved in "real estate play" or purchase of the teams. But he remained adamant that neither is for sale and intimated that Sonics fans need to be passionate like Storm fans.
Jackson, starting small forward Iziane Castro Marques, a Brazilian Olympian; and rookie guard Katie Gearlds are the only Storm players under contract for next summer.
"We get another shot," reserve guard Tanisha Wright said. "Now I can finally tell people that we'll be in Seattle for at least 2008. That's a big relief."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 7:10 PM
Storm re-signs Swin Cash to multiyear deal
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.