I would like to put my two cents into the potential new ownership situation. I'm OK with it. While we (the SC.com staff) knew that Howard Schultz had been open to selling the team, and even possibly had some interested parties, nobody had a whiff of something being this close to being done. I think you will find the following will differ greatly from much of the knee jerk reactions that are going on around many other forums on the web.
I'm OK with this sale for many reasons. First, I do not think the new ownership group wants to move the team, or certainly not in the near future. Oklahoma City (OKC) has just over 1/2 million people in it, and 1.3 million in their metro area. Seattle itself has just below 600,000 people, but the metro area has 3.8 million people to draw from as a fan base.
The median income for a household in OKC is $34,947, and the median income for a family was $42,689. While the numbers for Seattle have the median income for a household in the city as $45,736, and the median income for a family is $62,195. OKC certainly has a lower cost of living, but not low enough to off set that significant earning difference, especially not when multiplied by the difference in number of people in the regions.
Seattle is the 13th largest media market in the USA, OKC is 45.
While OKC has done a good job hosting the Hornets (and may continue to do so), it would make no sense to move a long tenured NBA franchise from a market the size of Seattle to OKC. New Orleans is actually compariable to OKC in a number of things, which makes it make a lot more logical to keep the Hornets in OKC.
I think this is simply a business deal. And on the back of that, I think it would make very poor business sense to move this team any time in the near future.
What this sale might do though is hopefully spark a bit more of a fire to get a new arena deal worked out. I know, we've hashed that all to death once this year already on the blog. I think it will be interesting to see what role going forward Howard Schultz will play in the arena debate. Once he has sold the team, his support of a new building is far less self serving. I also think that Mr. Schultz could get a lot of positive PR working on a new arena to repair whatever damage was done in his selling the team.
As Brian R. pointed out in the previous thread, Howard Schultz is very much a part of Seattle. He has intentionally branded both himself and his company to be identified with Seattle. I do not think he would have sold knowing the team was going to move any time soon. If that was the case, I think he could have held out longer and made more money on the potential sale. I don't think Schultz is trying to stick it to the city of Seattle.
So, while it is possible that the team may someday move, I don't see it anywhere on the near horizon, regardless of which group owns the team.
Go SEATTLE Sonics!