Gov. wants answers on Sonics from Seattle mayor

Updated: April 5, 2006, 9:46 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press