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Gov. wants answers on Sonics from Seattle mayor

SEATTLE -- Gov. Chris Gregoire sent a letter to Seattle
Mayor Greg Nickels on Wednesday, urging him to let the Seattle SuperSonics and Storm basketball franchises know where the city
stands on making improvements to KeyArena.

The letter came as the Sonics ownership group met in Seattle.
Following the meeting, president Wally Walker reiterated that the
team may have to be sold if it can't obtain more favorable lease
terms or a new stadium in the region.

"We have retained advisers to help us explore options,
including a new facility within the region and potential sale of
the franchises, particularly given the numerous inquiries that we
have received," Walker's statement said. "The sale of the
franchises has never been our preferred option, but given time
running short on our current lease, we must contemplate all
scenarios.

"This ownership group has no interest in owning professional
basketball franchises outside the state of Washington," he added.

The Sonics, the city's oldest major league professional sports
franchise, asked the state Legislature for financial assistance
toward arena improvements at an estimated cost of $220 million, but
that plea was put on hold for at least a year as lawmakers
adjourned last month.

In her letter, Gregoire wrote: "The Sonics and Storm deserve to
know their status with the city so the team can decide whether or
not to pursue other options. If the city intends to pursue a future
for the arena that does not include the Sonics and Storm, it is
time to communicate that to them so they may consider alternatives
within Washington before contemplating a long-distance move."

Marty McOmber, a spokesman for the mayor, said Nickels would
like to see the Sonics stay after their lease ends in 2010.

"We'll continue working with the Sonics and the other parties
involved," McOmber said.