Monday , Aug , 13 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Seattle SuperSonics Will Stay Put, NBA Wants Oklahoma City Expansion Fee

What the folks in Seattle have been whispering is true: Clay Bennett’s ownership group never intended to keep the SuperSonics in the Emerald City. They had the just visiting sign up from day one, hoping to steal the team back to their native Oklahoma City …

The Seattle Post Intelligencer reports on a conspiracy theory to move the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City:

Aubrey McClendon says he is "under a self-imposed gag order" regarding the business of running the NBA franchise, but that didn’t stop the Sonics minority owner from telling The Journal Record of Oklahoma City that the group’s desire is to get the team out of Seattle.

In a long article about McClendon appearing in Monday’s Journal Record, the 48-year-old acknowledged the financial benefits of Seattle‘s larger market.

"But we didn’t buy the team to keep it in Seattle. We hoped to come here," he said. "We know it’s a little more difficult financially here in Oklahoma City, but we think it’s great for the community and if we could break even, we’d be thrilled."

My Quick Take: What the folks in Seattle have been whispering is true: Clay Bennett’s ownership group never intended to keep the in the Emerald City. They had the just visiting sign up from day one, hoping to steal the team back to their native Oklahoma City.

Two things strike me about this quote:

  • It’s impossible for Seattle’s municipal government and citizens to now deal with Bennett’s investors in good faith. Politicians won’t fund a new stadium with public money because ownership was never honest with their intentions. Any political will to build a new arena just disappeared.
  • How dumb was this comment from Bennett’s ownership group? This is bad PR for the NBA and Commissioner Stern won’t just allow another well-supported NBA team to leave the Pacific Northwest.

I believe the Sonics will stay in Seattle. They’re a proud franchise. They’ve had some great ones suit up in green-and-gold: Downtown Freddie Brown, Jack Sikma, Lenny Wilkins, Gary Payton, and Shawn Kemp.

Money, not history, will keep the Sonics in Washington State. Oklahoma City proved they can support an NBA team after selling out the arena for the re-located . They’re a perfect market for an expansion franchise and they’ll pay the 350 million dollar expansion fee. The NBA won’t let an existing team, like the Sonics, move to Oklahoma City because the league’s 30 owners won’t get to charge and split the expansion fee. Bottom line, money talks in the NBA.

Do you think the Sonics will stay in Seattle? Get at us in the comment box below with your thoughts.

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