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  1. #1

    Default Seattle Attorneys to Talk to Cornett

    Seattle attorneys may talk to CornettBy Darnell Mayberry
    Staff Writer

    Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said he was shocked to learn that the city of Seattle's legal team is interested in questioning him during the upcoming trial between the city and the SuperSonics.

    Cornett on Tuesday was targeted by the city of Seattle's attorneys as one of up to 11 depositions allowed by U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman, who this week scheduled the six-day trial to begin June 16.

    "I was surprised because I thought the issue had to do with the existing lease between the team and the city, Cornett said. "I obviously wasn't a part of any lease that was signed 12 years ago and don't know what I would add to the conversation. But I will cooperate with whatever they want.

    Cornett said he hasn't been contacted by anyone from Seattle regarding his appearance at the trial and admitted he is unsure whether to clear his schedule during that portion of June. Cornett said he became familiar with his potential involvement through Seattle media reports.

    Cornett appeared on the deposition list despite what he described as his concerted efforts not to directly pursue the Sonics until the Oklahoma-based ownership group formally applied with the NBA to relocate to Oklahoma City on Nov. 2. Before the ownership group filed its relocation application, Cornett rarely mentioned the Sonics by name in interviews.

    "We have always focused on us, Cornett said, "knowing that if we focus on us I feel like we're going to get an NBA team. We've been very careful to not get involved with anything that's going on in Seattle.

    "I have a very good relationship with the Seattle mayor (Greg Nickels) and think the world of that city. I've vacationed there several times. I think it's a beautiful place.

    On Dec. 20, Cornett unveiled a plan to fund $120 million of improvements to the Ford Center through a one-cent sales tax extension in hopes of luring an NBA team. Oklahoma City voters will decide through a March 4 election whether to support the proposal.

    One possible reason Seattle attorneys have targeted Cornett could be the alleged positive economic impact he and Sonics chairman Clay Bennett have said an NBA franchise could have on Oklahoma City. Attorneys for the Sonics, meanwhile, have used the opposite argument in their attempt to flee Seattle, saying the Sonics provide little to no economic impact and wouldn't be missed in Washington.

    Seattle city officials are attempting to prevent the Sonics from relocating to Oklahoma City before the expiration of the team's arena contract in September 2010. Sonics owners seek a ruling from Pechman that would allow them to escape the arena contract's final two years by paying off the remainder of the lease.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Seattle Attorneys to Talk to Cornett

    They're trying to get Cornett to say that the Sonics have a positive economic impact, to contrast with Bennett's claim that they don't have an economic impact. It's pitting Cornett against Bennett. Typical attorney strategy if you ask me.

    Well, both are true, and I hope the mayor points that out when he talks to Seattle's attorneys. In Seattle, the Sonics aren't having that big of an economic impact. The city isn't interested in them, they're losing money, and they have to compete with the Mariners and Seahawks. But, the case would be different in OKC. The Sonics would be the only team in town, and they'd have the support of a public that's very interested in OKC having a major league team. Plus they'd draw more people downtown, something our downtown could use. Seattle is a much larger city and has many things to attract people downtown already, so the NBA team isn't having the same effect it would have here.

    So, I think the difference lies in the market in which the team is in. Huge economic impact here, none is Seattle.

    If the mayor makes that obvious in his statements to the attorneys, there will be nothing they can use to help their case, and it will help Bennett's case.

    But, I can see the attorneys now just saying that Cornett reports an economic impact but Bennett doesn't, without telling the whole story. That's the artof being an attorney.....only telling part of the story. Nothing wrong with that...it's their job. But, I hope the judge reads between the lines and sees that.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Seattle Attorneys to Talk to Cornett

    I agree Patrick. I'm pretty sure I've seen an article in the past (looking for it now) discussing the economic impact of sports teams that states that the first team in a city has an economic impact, but adding subsequent teams does not really add much economically. That makes sense to me, and if you look at the reverse, if adding a third team doesn't have much impact, taking it away probably wouldn't either. In addition, because Seattle has so many entertainment options: ocean, mountains, forests, as well as a big city atmosphere and two other teams, they don't need the artificial entertainment a city like OKC has to create, to make up for the fact that we don't have an ocean or mountains or the like. So, having a professional team here would make up a far greater percentage of the entertainment options available to people in OKC than the Sonics do in Seattle. I think you can hold both positions and not be wrong or lying to one city. In addition, I'm pretty sure the Sonics' attorneys are rather cleverly throwing the words of Chris Van Dyke, Nick Licata and the Seattle politicians back at them. I know attorneys love to get you for stuff you've said before you knew it would come back to haunt you. But I do have a question that echoes Mick's. I thought this was about the lease, and whether the owners can legally break it. Do they have to prove to the judge that they're not doing well in Seattle and that Seattle really won't be affected by them leaving, or is the wording of the lease what's important? Any lawyers out there to explain this?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Seattle Attorneys to Talk to Cornett

    Patrick and Betts - both of you are correct. I am starting to think that the Seattle attorneys don't know what the trial is about. It is supposed to be about the wording of the lease. It is not about good faith efforts, tampering, or even stained dresses. It is about the lease.

    I don't understand why Seattle lawyers are going down this path. This line of thinking is so easy to defeat with the facts. It must be all they have left. Seattle did a study and said the Sonics don't provide any benefit to Seattle. OKC did a study and said the Sonics will provide a beneift to the city. The Sonics simply agreed and decided to locate where they could make a positive impact. Case over - thanks for playing Slade.

  5. Default Re: Seattle Attorneys to Talk to Cornett

    nobody ever said that the Sonics wont have a positive impact on Oklahoma City. All of us on here, the mayor, Bennett and everybody - think the NBA and Sonics WILL HAVE a positive impact to OKC.

    However, it was the CITY OF SEATTLE who said the Sonics DONT have a positive impact on SEATTLE!!! They proved it with a survey THEY CREATED (deputy mayor Tim Ceis and CFMIT leader Chris Van Dyke to be precise) that Bennett is now running with.

    Sure, the Seattle attorneys are trying to discredit Bennett by noting that hey, OKC thinks the Sonics are a positive impact so why shouldn't they be for Seattle. BUT what they want everyone to forget is that IT WAS THOSE SAME SEATTLE LEADERS WHO THEMSELVES SAID THE SONICS PROVIDED NO ECONOMIC VALUE TO SEATTLE PRIOR TO SEPT 2007!!!!!

    Seattle Leaders shot themselves in the foot by downplaying the Sonics and their contribution, at a time when Bennett was trying to show otherwise. Now, Bennett agrees with that survey and that position (that the Sonics mean nothing to Seattle) and now the City Leaders are whining and crying. It was THEIR OWN mouth whose foot they put themselves in.

    All Bennett needs to do is REMIND the city leaders who created the report he is now using, and that Seattle and OKC are two different communities - and OBVIOUSLY OKC sees value in the NBA that Seattle does not (or did not)!
    Oklahoma City, the RENAISSANCE CITY!

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