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News » Seattle Supersonics Notes, Quotes 2008-06-18

Seattle Supersonics Notes, Quotes 2008-06-18

Seattle Supersonics Notes, Quotes 2008-06-18
--The NBA announced this week that the Sonics' D-League affiliate has been changed from the Idaho Stampede to the Tulsa 66ers. Tulsa is 100 miles northeast of Oklahoma City -- the same city the league's Board of Governors approved the Sonics ownership group to relocate the team to in April, beginning with the 2008-09 season.

"Whether the relocation occurs this upcoming season or in two years, we are confident that the affiliation between the Sonics and the 66ers will be mutually beneficial," said Tim Frank, spokesperson for the league. "We feel it is in both franchises best interests to begin developing that bond during the upcoming NBA D-League season."

The Sonics had been affiliated with the Idaho Stampede since 2005, and shared that affiliation with the Portland Trail Blazers. Now, the Blazers and the Toronto Raptors, a team nearly 2,000 miles from the team's base near Boise, will share affiliation with the Stampede, while the Sonics and the Milwaukee Bucks share affiliation with Tulsa.

--Attorneys for the city of Seattle and the Sonics ownership group filed trial briefs late Wednesday in preparation for the opening day of a federal court trial in the city's lawsuit against the team to force the Sonics to honor the last two years of their KeyArena lease.

Attorneys for the city maintain the Sonics are contractually obligated to fulfill the lease -- which runs until September 2010 -- because of a specific performance stipulation stating the team must play all of its home games at KeyArena.

The city argues that it receives tangible, economic benefits and intangible benefits that cannot be measured in monetary terms from the team playing its games in Seattle. Further, the city states the Sonics are a unique tenant that cannot be replaced, and under those circumstances the city is entitled to enforce the lease to prevent the team from leaving.

The Sonics argue both parties will be worse off financially with a forced relationship, and that, "the great majority of the public has a yawning indifference to the Sonics departure."

In the brief, attorneys for the ownership group, headed by Sonics chairman Clay Bennett, argue that money spent on the team will just be spent on other entertainment options in the city if the Sonics relocate to Oklahoma City, and that if forced to stay, the ownership group may need to drastically alter its business methods, potentially reducing the rent to the City.

Attorneys for the Sonics also state the team should pay a sum of $10 million to satisfy the arena rental agreement with the city. The team states it lost $30 million this past season -- the Sonics finished with a franchise-worst 20-62 record.

However, the Sonics offered $26.5 million to buyout the contract in February, which was turned down by the city a day later.

Bennett testified in a deposition in April that the ownership group will lose $61 to $65 million if forced to play in Seattle for two "lame-duck" seasons. Bennett also said the Sonics would make $18.8 million should the court allow the team to play in Oklahoma City beginning this fall.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: June 18, 2008


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