SEATTLE -- Two weeks after calling for a resumption of talks
about a new arena, SuperSonics owner Clay Bennett accused Seattle
Mayor Greg Nickels of focusing on "unworkable concepts."
In a statement issued Thursday, Bennett said KeyArena -- the
Sonics' current home and the smallest venue in the NBA -- is not an
option for the team.
He said the Sonics' ownership group had hoped the mayor would
rally support to find a solution.
"Instead he focused on unworkable concepts that are not
acceptable," Bennett said in his statement, adding that he hopes
other civic leaders step up.
In response, Nickels said Thursday in a statement that he would
be happy to meet with Bennett to "discuss how we can work together
to keep the Sonics in Seattle."
Nickels added, "However, if Mr. Bennett wants to limit the
conversation to an early buy-out of the team's lease at KeyArena,
then I agree -- a trip to Seattle isn't worth the price of the plane
"... If the Sonics are committed to staying in Seattle there
are sensible solutions that, working in good faith, can be found,"
Bennett's group bought the Sonics a year ago, saying the arena
at the Seattle Center was outdated as the home for the NBA
franchise and the WNBA Storm.
This year, the Legislature convened without authorizing any tax
money to help build a new arena.
Bennett, an Oklahoma City businessman, issued a "call to
action" last month, asking for offers to help save the team.
Nickels said Wednesday that if the Sonics were willing to put
$100 million into a new arena or the KeyArena, then the city might
be able to match it.
Bennett has set an Oct. 31 deadline for an agreement on a new
arena. Otherwise, he has promised to begin relocating the team,
most likely to Oklahoma City or Kansas City, which is looking for
an anchor tenant for its new arena.