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It's True, the Sonics are Moving

OK, not moving to Oklahoma but at the minimum they are getting some new corporate digs at the Washington Mutual Tower downtown. The team announced today that they have sublet their Elliott Way space and will be moving corporate offices. The announced reasoning is simply a budgetary savings in the range of $400,000 per year. Seems obvious enough.

The conspiracy theorist in my starts to think that this move could help them with an additional move in the future. Their Elliot Ave lease reportedly expired Dec. 31, 2010 coinciding with their Key Arena lease after the 2010/2011 season. I ask myself, if they were able to sublet that lease, and sign a new lease which contains options out in each of the coming years wouldn't it make it that much simpler for them to move out. Reportedly the new lease has the same expiration date as thier existing one, however minor details such as options out are not disclosed. If they were preparing to move the team getting those option amounts and dates settled would simply be one more item on the laundry list of preparation.

Talking to an industry leading commercial real estate broker today I'm told that the Seattle office market is so hot that options out are likely not even an issue. For either building the rental rate a year from now will likely be so much higher that the team would not have any trouble re-renting the space should they choose to move. That same agent however admits that the WAMU Tower location has significantly broader appeal and may be more easily sublet should they choose. Additionally they may have gotten some longer term options on the lease which make subletting much easier. The owner of the Elliott Bay facility is a known Sonics fan and could have created some problems for them.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that it is 50/50 that their decision to make this change is directly related to the fact that they want to increase their options to move. The fact that they chose to release this decision on draft lottery day, when they know almost all discussion will relate to the teams lottery position and the move will be only a footnote in tomorrows coverage seals the deal for me. This is a move towards a move and I hope people are paying attention.