SBD/Issue 33/Franchises

Stern Not Optimistic About Sonics Staying In Seattle Long-Term

NBA Commissioner Not Optimistic About
Sonics Long-Term Future In Seattle
NBA Commissioner David Stern yesterday "sounded pessimistic" about the Sonics' future in Seattle, and said that his two trips to the city "to promote an arena solution showed 'there was no heart whatsoever for assisting a Sonics team,'" according to Greg Johns of the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER. Fan group Save Our Sonics President Brian Robinson said Stern "has an obligation to try to influence the politicians. We need him to be part of the process of explaining why this is important and helping convince people to care." While Stern has helped "broker solutions" in other arena conflicts, such as in Sacramento and Vancouver, he indicated that "no such involvement was likely forthcoming in Seattle." Stern said, "In Sacramento the team is a fixture and everybody expressed a desire that they stay, from the city to county to governor. [Seattle] is a completely different situation." Johns notes Stern "sounded resigned" to the possibility that Sonics Owner Clay Bennett could move the team when his ownership group "gets out of the KeyArena lease." Stern: "We'd love to have found a path to see them stay, but right now it seems either they'll be there for the endurance of the lease or not, depending on the outcome [of the legal dispute concerning the lease]" (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 10/26).  In Seattle, Percy Allen notes Stern last year, on behalf of former Sonics Owner Howard Schultz, "found little support in the state capital for plans to renovate KeyArena."  Stern is "standing firmly with the Sonics" after the team last week argued that the city’s suit against them over the KeyArena lease should be sent to binding arbitration (SEATTLE TIMES, 10/26).

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