Key Arena not Sonics' future home, owner says

Updated: August 3, 2007, 1:07 AM ET
Associated Press

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 ticket.

"... If the Sonics are committed to staying in Seattle there are sensible solutions that, working in good faith, can be found," Nickels added.

Bennett's group bought the Sonics a year ago, saying the arena at the Seattle Center was outdated as the home for the NBA franchise and the WNBA Storm.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.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press