Former Sonics Owner Barry Ackerley Passes Away At Age Of 76
Former Sonics Owner BARRY ACKERLEY passed away yesterday in Southern California at the age of 76 "after suffering a stroke on Saturday," according to Danny O'Neil of the SEATTLE TIMES. Ackerley "bought the Sonics in 1983, purchasing them from SAM SCHULMAN," and the team "reached the playoffs 13 times in the 18 years Ackerley owned the team." The "most sustained success in Sonics history came under" Ackerley. The team "won 55 or more games for six successive seasons beginning in 1992-93, and the Sonics didn't have a losing record in any of his final 14 seasons as owner." Ackerley "sold the Sonics in 2001 to a group of investors led by" Starbucks Chair, President & CEO HOWARD SCHULTZ (SEATTLE TIMES, 3/22). In Seattle, Steve Kelley writes Ackerley "will be remembered for winning more often than he lost." He also launched KJR-AM, the "first all-sports-talk radio station," and "tough-minded businessman that he was, Ackerley strong-armed the city into building an arena on the cheap, squeezing it into the Seattle Center's tiny footprint." He originally "had hoped to build a 20,000-seat, privately funded arena south of the Kingdome, but that plan failed when Ackerley couldn't guarantee the sale of 70 luxury suites." But the "best thing about Barry Ackerley was that he wasn't Howard Schultz." Kelley: "He didn't preen and pout in the front row, acting as if the cameras always were on him. In fact, he eventually vacated his courtside seats and watched games from the anonymity of the suites" (SEATTLE TIMES, 3/22).