View Full Version : Sonics? Tramel's Take



Karried
04-17-2007, 09:21 AM
I know we have pages of Clay Bennet's ownership. Thought I'd start a new thread with the new developments.

Sonics here next season?
Look for city-based owners to campaign to leave Seattle behind

By Berry Tramel
The Oklahoman

The NBA left Oklahoma City on Friday night. It could return soon. Very soon.


Hopes ended Monday night in Seattle that politicians could save the SuperSonics' plans for a new arena, at least in this legislative session.
Which means the Sonics' Oklahoma City-based owners could, and almost surely will, campaign to leave Seattle immediately.
No one is interested in a lame-duck season.
Not the Sonic owners, not the NBA, not even the city of Seattle, which will posture otherwise to enhance its negotiating status.
Midnight deals always are possible, especially when it comes to something as high profile as a major league sports franchise, but what little momentum existed in Olympia for a vote in the Washington Senate and House expired Monday night. Apparently, there will be no consideration of a bill that would allow King County voters to extend taxation that would largely fund a new arena in suburban Renton.
What does that mean for Oklahoma City? It means the Sonics owners will have time to request relocation this summer.

The NBA deadline for relocation request was March 1, but all things are negotiable, including the Sonics' lease through summer 2010 at Seattle's KeyArena.

The Sonic owners, led by Clay Bennett, clearly preferred to stay in Seattle, with a new arena. But they also clearly have no plans to stay without one.

Bennett's group vowed to give Seattle a full year from the October purchase date to settle on an arena plan, but there appears to be no solution between now and then. No other funding plan exists. The only hope would be a special session, but if a bill can't even get to a vote in the Senate, which is much more receptive to public funding than is the House, how could a special session possibly be warranted?

The Sonics' mission now shifts to exodus, and soon. Bennett, like any owner in sport, wants no part of a season in which a city and its fans, and a franchise and its players, know is the last hurrah. The Sonics would take a financial bath, and the city would suffer constant embarrassment. Seattle would negotiate hard; a buyout of the lease would cost millions.
But far better to barter to put a quick end to the relationship.

Would NBA owner David Stern endorse such a quick exit? Yes. He wouldn't like leaving a cosmo city like Seattle, but long before Bennett bought the team, Stern warned Seattle it could lose the franchise, and he also has no interest in a lame-duck season.

Bennett has been a huge friend to the NBA. A contributor to the stability of the Spurs in San Antonio, when he was on its board of directors, and the point man in the rescue of the Hornets after Katrina swamped New Orleans.
The Hornets were a raging success in Oklahoma City because of the efforts of OKC's business community and the civic government, and Bennett was the main reason why.

The NBA owes Bennett big time and knows it.
If Bennett cashed in his chips by asking the league to waive the March 1 deadline, I don't see how it could say no.

Logistics are no problem; the Hornets' Year 1 had a six-week time frame to get ready in Oklahoma City. The Sonics could have six months to do the same.

Truth is, here's the biggest sticking point to instant relocation: Making sure Oklahoma City is the proper home for the Sonics.

Despite the hometown ties, the Sonic owners paid premium dollar for the franchise: $350 million. The four primaries Bennett, Aubrey McClendon, Tom Ward and G. Jeffrey Records each ponied up about $70 million. They are Oklahoma City businessmen; we like to focus on that OKC part, but don't forget the businessmen part.

The NBA at the Ford Center must make long-term financial sense for these guys, just like it would for George Shinn or anyone else who might put a franchise here.

It's quite possible that Bennett would scope out other cities, Kansas City and Anaheim, primarily, and see what's out there. He owes it to himself and his partners to explore all possibilities.
But at the end of the day, it would be very difficult for men who grew up in Oklahoma City to put an NBA franchise somewhere else.

At the end of the day, I say they would bring the Sonics here. That day could come soon.

Nixon7
04-17-2007, 09:31 AM
Always take what Trammel says with a grain of salt. If I'm not mistaken, he was one of the journalists really assuring us the Hornets would stay forever....

jbrown84
04-17-2007, 09:42 AM
Yeah, he did say that.

I'm surprised that he thinks Bennett will look at KC and Anaheim. That goes against everything Bennett has said.

okclee
04-17-2007, 09:46 AM
I think that he will look only so that when he does move to Okc, he will have the information of what other major markets have to offer. Remember he will need to negotiate a deal with Okc, that will include either arena upgrades or a new arena in the near future as well as a practice facility.

andy157
03-03-2008, 03:18 AM
Yeah, he did say that.

I'm surprised that he thinks Bennett will look at KC and Anaheim. That goes against everything Bennett has said.What (every) things Bennett has said are you referring to?