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August 30, 2008

Seattle Center Arena Reboot

I have moved on to prod the arena along. I'll write about the Sonics again if there is a Sonics again, maybe.
Find me here:

Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

July 02, 2008

City takes a Dive, Bennett bleeds Money, Seattle Fans still get nothing

SEATTLE - The City of Seattle took the cash today, rather than enforce the lease for the next two years.

Statement by Mayor Nickels on the settlement of the City's lawsuit with the Seattle Sonics
Today, I [Mayor Nickels] am announcing a settlement with Mr. Bennett and the Professional Basketball Club. Our goals for the settlement were two: To protect the taxpayers’ investment in KeyArena and have a long-term future for professional basketball.

In exchange for terminating the lease two years early, Mr. Bennett has agreed to settlement package with a payment up to $75 million to the City of Seattle. Under the agreement, $45 million will be paid to the City immediately. That covers rent and loss of tax revenue, and allows us to pay off outstanding debt on KeyArena.

Our agreement calls for Mr. Bennett and his co-owners to pay an additional $30 million in 2013—if the NBA has not approved a team to play in Seattle.
The NBA was an important part of our negotiations—agreeing that a renovated KeyArena can be a competitive NBA facility. This is a crucial point for us. A KeyArena with professional basketball is a cornerstone for a vibrant Seattle Center.

The NBA has committed to helping us secure a future team—informing us of any sale, relocation or expansion opportunities.

Committed local ownership is critical—and we are grateful that Steve Ballmer and his group, represented here by Matt Griffin, are working to secure a new team.

The city is ready to do its part. Local investors have stepped up. Now, the State Legislature must act. If it fails to approve public funding next year to remodel KeyArena, we will lose our rights to that $30 million payment if we do not get a team.

I believed all along that enforcing our lease would create time for a better deal. We now have that deal.

The Sonics name and history stay in Seattle. Seattle is a natural home for professional basketball—loyal fans, and a rich, 40-year tradition.

Working together, we are now in the best position to continue that legacy in Seattle.

No team for the fans, cash for the city, an IOU from Clay Bennett if we cash the IOU from the State of Washington, nothing for the fans.

We were screwed. That offer was not going to get worse with time, with a court win, the took money from somebody that has money, but the mayor, Mayor Nickels, said it wasn't about the money in his testimony, it was about enforcing the lease, and retaining NBA basketball in Seattle; neither happened.

Thanks for almost rising to the challenge Mayor Nickels.

I hate Clay Bennett, I watched him lie, and now I watched Mayor Nickels let him get away with it.
Thanks to Brian, Steve, Xteve, Grif, everybody that fueled

I have maintained that it has not, and is not, because of the fans that any of this is happening. The owners, the politicians, and especially the NBA, all have failed you.

Shame on them.

June 14, 2008

You hold him, I'll hit him!

SEATTLE - As noted in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer story, written by Greg Johns, Settlement unlikely as Sonics, city head to trial, a settlement is not expected in the case that begins on Monday, June 16, 2008. It has been my contention that there isn't a meaningful benefit to settling for either side since Howard Schultz filed his case against Clay Bennett's ownership group.
The fraud that is the Bennett's ownership group, as alleged by Howard Schultz' lawyer, Richard Yarmuth, put the city in the position of collecting depositions it had, and had planned prior to Schultz making his claim, and moving on to the subject that it actually owns, the two years left on the current lease. The city has its own reasons to keep the NBA playing in Seattle (once they get out the door it is unlikely you are going to get the NBA back), so they are able to stick to the part of the case that they can win and would result in getting what they want. Had the city gone after the fraud the result would have been, at best, a judge not having a direct party in the case having a claim to the team, other than as an occupant of a custom remodel to a public building.
The city doesn't have as much leverage as it could have after winning the court case. Removing the buyout as an option that is only available IF the city, the mayor in particular, thought that would be acceptable. The problem for the mayor, and the city, is that it has many leases to enforce and it just can't have public money spent on a custom remodel for a unique tenet and have that tenant break a lease and leave. That's bad policy, it is bad politics, consider that he wants to remake the entire Seattle Center site, including Key Arena (warning, big file).
Having an anchor tenant is a priority, knowing that there is at lease one person willing to gift $150 million to Key Arena is motivation enough. Imagine trying to sell the idea of remaking the Seattle Center with many public/private partnerships while Clay Bennett is acting as the worst example you could find.
It just makes sense on a bigger scale to enforce this lease, maintain continuity with an anchor tenant in a custom building.
Schultz will follow up with the other question of the actual team, the fraud part of Bennett's business model.

On the Bennett side, he only has one team to bargain with. Give it back to Schultz and he is out a team, worst case in the city trial is that he waits out two years and then leaves. If the NBA really would leave Seattle as the largest edia market in the United States of America without and NBA team, then their threats make sense, that they would not return. So, Stern and Bennett could care less about burning this bridge, they are chasing short money in Oklahoma City.
They have nothing to lose as long as you assume, as I do, that they have no dignity to begin with. They simply do not care about you, get over it.

Bennett's biggest problem is that he will have to return to face the same judge in the Schultz trial, after having shown his ignorance of the lease, and lied through his teeth to remake the past efforts to relocate to OKC ASAP as something other than they clearly are. Bennett got some no-so-good advice from David Stern's NBA before the end of the 12 month good faith best efforts period had ended, rather than warn Bennett that his efforts to relocate to OKC for the 2007-2008 season are a breach of good faith best efforts, the NBA simply said there wasn't enough time to ram the request through the NBA Board of Governors, and relocation committee. The league, in the Schultz trial, is a participant with Bennett, it has teams it wants to move from markets that want them gone.

If Bennett is going to let go of the Sonics it will not be without a promise of another team for OKC. It isn't Seattle waiting on a promise, I think it is Bennett. That promise can not be made, or kept, until everybody moves on the the Schultz trial. If Bennett loses the Sonics to Howard Schultz he, Bennett, can point to the league as assisting him with his relocation efforts that lead to him losing the team.

Who is a direct party to which case? Who has more than one team or can create new teams? Answer those questions to find your answer, and you will not find it as a direct party in next week's trial.

The City of Seattle vs. Clay Bennett, Aubrey McClendon, is not where this situation can be solved. A missing part of all of this is the Fall elections, and the State of Washington living up to its signed letter and fund the rest of the Key Arena remodel. The NBA simply can not complete a resolution, short of losing the trial, without remodel funding committed to the project.

Enjoy next week's show everybody, but that is just not where the resolution resides.

I appreciate the hopeful expectations of all those at , I share your optimism for a resolution that sets things right for the City of Seattle, NBA, Sonics, more importantly the fans, I just have not ever seen this trial not happening. They have no shame, this is not about shame, this is about having a legal right to keep the team here (an owner getting bad advice from the NBA), for Bennett to have a team (more bad advice from the NBA, and the NBA becoming a direct party to court action that would be resided over by Judge Marsha Pechman, the loss of control of the league and ownership of a team by the NBA would be unbearable.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone (which will be turned off if I am in the courtroom, I promise).