Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Renton Job: "A debilitating blow"

Clay Bennett is shocking the world. The Sonics are ever more likely to move to Oklahoma City. This is unexpected. Here is what he said after the state legislature sneezed at his efforts to come up with $500 million in public money to build at stadium smack in the infamous S-Curves.
"This is a staggering and quite likely a debilitating blow to our efforts to develop a world-class arena facility. Clearly at this time the Sonics and Storm have little hope of remaining in the Puget Sound region."
Yeah, that's really sad. Especially considering that Bennett says he'd gone to

"extraordinary lengths with significant time and resources to craft a proposal for a global-caliber multipurpose event facility that would be a valuable public asset for the region for years to come and have minimal impact on taxpayers."

Really, Clay? Really? Here's what the Times pointed out:

Still, some lawmakers questioned the Sonics' lobbying effort.

When Seahawks owner Paul Allen was pushing his stadium funding proposal 10 years ago, he unleashed an army of lobbyists and made a high-profile pitch in Olympia.

"The Sonics just have not done that kind of full-court press," said Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, chairman of the House Finance Committee, who opposed the proposal. "I don't know that they're serious."

Hunter said he got more pressure this year to support public financing for a theater-renovation project in Yakima than from the Sonics.

Wait. Bennett might actually secretly want to move the team to OK? That would be so weird. I mean, he only has a stadium already built there and he only lives there. What obvious connection could there be?

The real fun, the PI points out, will be when he does pack up the bags like some modern day Bob Irsay only to get served by the City of Seattle for breaking his lease contract with Key Arena, which runs through 2010. And never mind the few million a year he pays in rent, the city, it appears, will go after him for ticket taxes, restaurant revenue, parking, luxury box taxes, the whole nine.

Seattle's Finance Director Dwight Dively said getting out of the lease could be costly for the Sonics. "Our view is that we have an absolute guarantee that they will be here through the end of our lease and if they wanted to leave before that we would demand substantial financial damages," Dively said.

Jack Sikma could not be reached for comment.

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