Saw this in the rumors section, thought it may be of interst to this thread...
KC has Sonics’ attention
NBA team’s owner says the Sprint Center could figure in his search for a new home.
By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star
Bennett The conference in downtown Kansas City was billed, “If You Build It, Will They Come?” Well, Clay Bennett, chairman of the Seattle SuperSonics, will you?
Bennett, who has been frustrated in his attempts to secure a new arena in Seattle, acknowledged Monday that Kansas City’s new Sprint Center could be a future home for his NBA franchise.
“My take on Kansas City is positive,” Bennett said after he spoke at a luncheon at the Westin Crown Center sponsored by the International Economic Development Council.
“I’m somewhat familiar with Kansas City, and it will be fully considered. You’ve got a brand-new beautiful building in an important market. It’s viable. We’re going to do a complete and thorough evaluation of the market.”
The Sonics’ lease (as well as the WNBA’s Seattle Storm) at outdated Key Arena, the second-smallest facility in the NBA, does not expire until 2010, but the franchise could opt out for $75 million after the 2007-08 season.
After the Washington state legislature did not act in mid-April on the club’s proposal to extend existing taxes on restaurants, rental cars and hotels that would provide $300 million toward a new $500 million arena and other projects, Bennett established an Oct. 31 deadline for another arena plan.
Unless the state calls a special session, a new plan is unlikely, because the legislature does not convene until 2008.
“Right now, we have no option other than to explore relocation,” said Bennett, who said the Sonics were to contribute $100 million to the last arena proposal.
What bothered Bennett the most was the lack of response by the community when the legislative leaders declined to act on the proposal.
“No hue and cry, no letters to the editor, nothing by the media or talk on the call-in shows, or no new ideas on how to get it done,” Bennett said. “No private ideas on the table.”
It has been assumed that if the Sonics relocate after the 2007-08 season — their 40th year in Seattle — they would move to Bennett’s home of Oklahoma City, which enthusiastically supported the New Orleans Hornets during the past two seasons.
Not necessarily so. The $90 million Ford Center in Oklahoma City will not provide the revenue streams that will be available at the $276 million Sprint Center, where all 72 suites have been pre-sold on a long-term basis starting at $100,000.
“One dynamic is look at the experience the Hornets had, and the notion that it’s the only pro sports franchise in the state vs. the third in Kansas City,” said Bennett, who bought the Sonics for $350 million in 2006. “We’re going to work in very close contact with the league, and their strategy about where these franchises are and where they’re going to go and how we fit in.
“Clearly, they’re going to send us where they want us, and there will be building analysis, and market analysis. We’re still committed to Seattle until Oct. 31, and we’re going to do everything we can to get another public vote in August, and that’s if we receive authorization from the state. They’re out of session, and unless they come back for a special session, I’m not sure where we go.”
There was some speculation that Bennett was considering Las Vegas when he shared some thoughts about that community with Seattle’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau a few weeks ago.
“That was misinterpreted,” Bennett said. “The point of mentioning Las Vegas was to suggest there are other available markets for relocation.”