Two years later, after trying and failing at his own attempts at securing $500 million in funding from local government for a new arena complex in the suburbs, Bennett and PBC notified the NBA of their intention to move the team to Oklahoma City and requested arbitration with the city of Seattle to be released from the remainder of their lease agreement with the KeyArena.
The requested was denied and Seattle sued Bennett and PBC to stick out the remainder of the lease, which ended in 2010.
However, NBA owners weren’t so quick to keep the team in the Emerald City. In fact, they voted 28-2 to allow the move (only Mark Cuban and Paul Allen voted against it).
But, Bennett and PBC made some concessions.
A settlement was reached that allowed the team to move after the ownership group paid $45 million to the city of Seattle and an addition $30 million if they didn’t have a new team by 2013. They also were not allowed to use the name “Supersonics” and left the rights to the name to the city so a new team could be called the Sonics if they city were granted a new franchise. Lastly, the Thunder who own the history of the team would have to share its one championship, three conference titles, and six division titles with a new Seattle team.
Yes, that’s the short version!
It looks like a team based in Seattle could be claiming the 1979 NBA Title after all.
Seattle city council recently voted 7-1 in favor of a proposal for a $600-million redevelopment of KeyArena.
The vote is promising for sports enthusiasts, as a brand-new sports complex would attract another major franchise through expansion.
This isn’t just wishful thinking, either.
Tim Leiweke, the CEO of Oak View Group, a sports and entertainment company with deep roots in Seattle. As the former former president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Leiweke knows a thing or two about sports franchises and sounds completely optimistic that with the new complex deal in place that Seattle will be the future home of either an NHL, NBA team, or even both.
“I’ve been through this,” Leiweke told reporters. “I’ve seen teams ripped out of communities. It’s not a pretty thing to go through. I feel the pain, and we’ve been dealing with Sonics Rising and the Sonic community, and we understand. Lots of people have preferences about the NHL compared to the NBA. Whichever one comes first, if we do a great job with them, the other one will come.”
The crux of the matter is “the other one will come” part.
With the addition of the Las Vegas Golden Nights hockey team this year, that gives the NHL 31 teams while the Association still remains at 30 clubs.
By all accounts, Seattle looks to be the next home of an NHL franchise and with Leiweke’s relationship with the league already solidified, he may be able to convince the league’s front office to grant Seattle a team first with the NBA following.
There is a lot of ifs in the Emerald City right now, but they just got one step closer to having a team say “There’s no place like home.”