While I'm lecturing on my general feelings of business etiquette let me just say that as of today Clayton Bennett is CORRECT!
In addition to not letting things get personal I have another basic rule to negotiations, especially when things get a bit hostile:
NEVER LET YOUR ADVERSARY BE RIGHT.
In the case of Bennett and the PBC what I am talking about is the fact that there really has been little if any solid movement towards an arena in nearly 3 years. While we can complain about his tactics, despise his comments, and generally feel that he has done nothing to really help the cause we cannot dispute the fact that there is no proposal sitting in front of him. He has been left without an offer up to this point.
It is critically important at this time that this situation be addressed. Standoffs and petty bickering must be laid aside and at some point the bluff must be called. A legitimate offer must be laid out in front of ownership, the league, and the nation if Seattle wants to make any claim of damages.
Now is the time for arena ideas to begin to surface and for any potential local buyers to begin to identify themselves. Casting stones at Clay Bennett does no good if we donâ€™t want to match our tough talk with actions.
Make sure you have a loud political voice and communicate clearly to leadership of this region. Allowing the teams to depart without so much as making an offer is an embarrassment to this region and also to any individuals who consider themselves leaders of the community. From the mayor to Microsoft we need to embrace the fact that the only actions we can control are our own and that in the end the public accountability for inaction will be much greater than that of a failed effort.
I have 4 goals for the coming months, all directed at different people:
1) If he wishes to be taken seriously after this latest fiasco Clay Bennett must lay out some criteria for an acceptable deal. The city will put little if any effort into developing a plan if they donâ€™t feel heâ€™ll give it a reasonable look anyway. I have heard a lot about the detailed â€œmodelingâ€ done by HOK. If that information is shared and specific needs of revenue streams and other requirement are made, and if he gives his word that heâ€™ll accept a deal that meets those criteria then Seattle will make a move.
2) The City or region needs to be proactive and step up. Stop bickering and call a meeting with Clay. You can never get to a resolution without being in the same room and right now the onus is on the public. Call him, set a meeting, and go from there. By Oct. 31 THEY MUST HAVE SOME FRAMEWORK IN PLACE TO PRESENT TO HIM.
3) The NBA needs to take a stand and demonstrate that if a fair market deal is offered they will respect the history of a 40 year franchise and the size of this market by ensuring that relocation is blocked. Oklahoma City deserves an NBA franchise but it does not have to be our franchise. What needs to happen is either publicly or in private communication to the governor and mayor David Stern must communicate that if a fair market deal is presented then Clay Bennett either must accept it or sell the franchise to someone who will. If he sells the team he should be assured a future franchise in Oklahoma via either New Orleans or expansion.
4) Local Owners need to emerge. The final line becomes â€œWe have made a fair offer to Clay Bennett. If he will not accept it then these people are willing to buy the team and they will accept it.â€ None of these people will or should agree to anything until an arena is offered but they should identify themselves sooner rather than later.
Thatâ€™s the plan for now.