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BEHRING MAKES IT OFFICIAL: SEAHAWKS INTEND TO MOVE TO L.A.
Published February 5, 1996
Seahawks Owner Ken Behring announced his intention to move the team to L.A. on Friday, saying that King County had breached its contractual obligations in regards to seismic and other problems left unaddressed during the renovation of the Kingdome. Behring said they would leave behind the team's name, colors and logo (Seahawks). FIRST STEP, CALL THE LAWYERS: Friday afternoon, King County Judge Dale Ramerman issued a court order blocking the Behring, within the next 14 days, from selling the team to an out-of-state entity or entering into a contract with a third party that would have them play elsewhere. They are also prohibited from transferring assets or equipment "necessary to play games at Kingdome. Ramerman set a hearing date for February 16, at which time the county will ask the court to extend its ban until the dispute is settled. According to the POST-INTELLIGENCER, Behring offered $1M a year for 20 years and public use of the team's offices and camp as a buyout of the remaining 10 years on his Kingdome lease. The county refused. King County Exec Gary Locke: "This madness of football abandoning loyal fans simply must stop." The Seahawks filed their own suit in Kittitas County saying that the lease is invalid based on seismic studies (Seattle POST-INTELLIGENCER, 2/3). Locke: "We will never reward people for breaking leases by letting them pay their way out" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 2/2). STEP TWO, FIND A BUYER: While local officials outlined a course of legal action, they say "their real goal is to persuade Behring to sell the team to a local owner." According to Saturday's POST-INTELLIGENCER, "that would be done by convincing Behring that a court is likely to order him to stay in Seattle for the next 10 years, losing millions of dollars each year, as fans stay away from the now-hated team." Locke said Behring indicated he "would keep the door open" to local offers, and King County Metro Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer said he has been working with two local buyers. While he would not identify either, one is known to be Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen (Seattle POST-INTELLIGENCER, 2/3). A spokesperson for Allen confirmed his interest, but stopped short of saying Allen was negotiating with Behring (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 2/3). However, Allen's attorneys "have been quietly reviewing the team's financial documents, attendance records and marketing strategies." Von Reichbauer expected a decision by a local buyer in about 10 days (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 2/4). ESPN's Bob Ley reported the county had been "brokering discussions between Behring and ... Allen hoping Behring sell, but there is no indication he will ("SportsCenter," 2/2). STEP THREE, START THE MOVING VANS: Using a "loophole" in the court order, the Seahawks loaded equipment in moving vans headed for Anaheim -- the site of their new training camp. Anaheim officials hold a press conference today to announce that action "as a first step toward moving the entire team." Locke: "That's OK. They can even practice and train in Russia if they want. As long as they play their home games in the Kingdome" (POST-INTELLIGENCER, 2/5).