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Sickening

Some of you may have noted the deposition of Brent Gooden yesterday in which forwards an e-mail from me to Clay Bennet. In this forward he writes "this e-mail makes me sick, and that is putting it mildly." and then according to attorneys he "goes on to express further how much you dislike the e-mail.

I'm all for confidentiality but when guys are liars they are liars. For the record here is my sickeningly polite and cordial communication with Mr. Brent Gooden. I feel that this is very reflective of my overall conversation with Gooden, Bennett, and others. We went out of our way to be professional, honest, and above the board. Obviously under scrutiny they have not proven to hold themselves to the same standard.

I apologize to everybody for my harsh language with Brent. You can see why he was sickened by my rude and arrogant approach. So much so that City of Seattle attorneys asked him "what about the e-mail struck you so - so forrcefully?"

Brent,

Thank you for the talk today. Attached find a letter to Clay which I hope is not unecessarily critical. It is somewhat intentionally provocative as I wondered about sending it under friendly terms or in a more threatening manner(which I think you'll agree would be unproductive). In the end I am going to send it now as I think the point needs to be made quickly. I can worry about editing or tone later and hope that you see it for the purpose intended.

My concerns were expressed in full to Richard Milne at PPA today but frankly I believe that they are 100% engaged in the legislative process and not able at this time to deal with the general fan base. I trust that this will be held confidential to the extent that it does not hurt my working relationship with Karen, Richard, or others within the organization.

We basically have about 3 weeks to set up some type of plan which could be implemented the last week of the season. This groundwork should have been laid months ago.

Hope to see you up here one of these days. We would look forward to finally meeting with Clay or a representative.

Regards,

Brian Robinson

++++

The letter:

To: Mr. Clayton Bennett
Professional Basketball Club, LLC

From: Brian Robinson
Save Our Sonics and Storm

Mr. Bennett,

It is with some hesitancy that I am writing this letter. I hope that you find my comments constructive and helpful as they are intended to be. I am uncertain whether the concerns stated below are a result of timing, intention, or if perhaps from a distance you are unaware the franchises public interactions here in Seattle. For this reason I feel compelled to share my concerns.

As may be aware my Steve Pyeatt and I first contacted the organization last July, only days after your purchase of the franchise. Our initial assumptions was that our best chance for retaining the team in the Seattle area was to work closely with the organization, and by association hold this ownership group to their stated intentions. We believed then, as we do today that visible local support was a necessity and that undermining your effort in any way would significantly reduce the chances of successfully resolving the arena issue. Since that time we have been consistent in our praise of your actions and intentions with our public statements, including an article slated for next months issue of ESPN the Magazine.

After nearly 8 months of working cooperatively I find myself questioning the implementation of any your efforts here on the ground in Seattle . At this point it appears that there is no effective plan in motion to engage or educate the local population and media of any relevant facts or arguments. If there are unseen efforts they are ineffective to the point of complete and total irrelevance.

Yesterday we co-hosted an event dedicated to the Sonics at Willows Run Golf Course. This event was sponsored by KJR950, Miller High Life, and Nike, all of whom had representatives at the course. As usual not a single Sonics employee, family member, or referral was in attendance, a fact which was noted by the Miller representatives. Discussing this matter at length with a mixed group of attendees, media members from print, radio, and television, along with at least 30 average fans I was stunned at the consistency and ferocity of the comments. Not a single person in attendance felt as if the team were making any effort to engage the general public. Furthermore almost nobody in attendance, despite being die hard fans, had any basic knowledge of the issues at hand or the arguments to be made. Many professed a desire to support the team publicly but were frustrated that they could not explain what a multi-purpose facility really was, why it was needed, what other tenants would be involved, etc.

I am aware that a decision has been made strategically to focus on legislative issues. However I must strongly advise you that public sentiment will not change unless some investment is made to actively engage the average person on the streets in Seattle . This requires working directly with groups such as our own, the booster club, fans of the Seahawks and Mariners, and also media members who consistently complain that the silence from your camp both alienates in annoys them.

We have to date not seen a shred of resource material, or educational talking points on this issue other than a single financing matrix. I am not aware of any existing campaign to relay valid statistics or points which you have made in your various public statements. Information is simply stated once and dropped without any reinforcement.

Some examples for your consideration:
• At the recent commemoration of the VanNess playing field, which opened in conjunction with the local arts project and community center I witnessed the Sonics representatives being repeatedly asked about the status of the arena project. The employees on site had a stunning lack of education on the issue and were unable to relay a single relevant fact or convincing argument to those who asked.
• On Feb. 9 we were asked to provide letters to the editor of the Seattle Times in support of Margarita Prentices Op-Ed piece in that days paper. The request came with no forewarning, at 9am that morning. Had we been given some notice we could have provided literally hundreds of letters but with little notice, and a busy personal schedule that day we wound up with only a single letter published.
• Since our initial meeting in August we have been promised contact information for all Sonics affiliate stations, many of whom have indicated interest in promoting SOS during away game viewing parties or radio interviews. As of this time we have never received this or any other substantial reference information requested from the team.
• Incorrect facts are frequently published by Seattle media members without reply or clarification from the team in public sources. Little if any factual information has been released to the public or even to my organization leading me to doubt that it has been compiled in useful form.
• SaveOurSonics has not received a single corporate or leadership referral to assist in our efforts. In an initial conversation with Miller Beer yesterday it became clear that Miller is ready to help and bewildered by the Sonics apparent lack of action. They wondered aloud why they have not been contacted for involvement in a series of promotional events or sponsorship participation.
• Despite their stated desire to work cooperatively the Sonics have not to date suggested or actively participated in a single planned event for SOS&S. We have been disheartened by how hard we have had to push to create a single event on Dec. 8, 2006. This event was only authorized on Nov. 29, giving us a total of 11 days to plan and implement an event that wound up featuring more than 300 participants.

Throughout this process the lack of notice and planning has been surprising. As a professional, who has chosen to volunteer hundreds of hours towards this project I am stunned that we cannot set a schedule of needed actions with a minimum of 2 weeks notice and preferably much more. It is embarrassing to participate in such last minute, loosely formulated, and frankly useless gestures when a managed campaign of even small and easily arranged events would have the potential to make a significant impact on the population. In all honesty it is appropriate at this juncture to begin looking into draft lottery events.
It is my observation that PPA has done an excellent job of framing this argument in the political arena. Further I believe that every member of the teams marketing staff is both well intentioned and competent to within the limits of their experience and support. However it is clear that they are stretched too thin and have other priorities during the Sonics and Storm seasons. Furthermore their marketing strategy is primarily focused on a narrow base of current, former, and potential season ticket holders rather than the public in general. Some type of additional support, either in house or via a third party is required.

The strong consensus here in Seattle is that the Sonics, under the prior ownership regime suffered a nearly critical shortage of staffing and experience to properly market their product. They have for several years suffered detachment from the local community and a problem with public relations. Adding the arena PR duties and a need to market your own ownership group to their duties during an unsuccessful season is, in my opinion, a disaster waiting to happen.

Mr. Bennett you cannot fight apathy with “more of the same”. If you have any desire to see a shift in public sentiment it is essential that this include a significant focus on developing ground level support of the franchise in general. I urge you to re-evaluate the current plan of action and potentially to retain advisors who are more closely tied to the Seattle public. If changes are planned within the organization they should be implemented as quickly as possible to at least generate interest and convey that the status quo is not adequate.

I must tell you in honesty that, as a husband, father, and business owner with more than 25 employees I do not have the time to participate in this process unless I feel as if all parties involved are cooperating in a winning effort. At this time I do not have that feeling and must openly question my own involvement as well as my public statements of support. I truly hope that there is more going on behind the scenes that I am unaware of or that changes can be made. There are literally hundreds of thousands of Sonics fans willing to be involved but they almost universally feel excluded from this process. They require direction and attention to rally. We are more than halfway through the season and site selection has been completed. The time for action is now.

Regards,

Brian Robinson

++++

His (obviously sickened reply)

Brian,

I have studied more carefully your proposed letter to Clay. You will see I have made several comments for your consideration. I think Clay would appreciate your honesty. The letter would be shared with the Sonics/Storm organization as well as PPA. The tone is constructive not destructive. It is information worth sharing with management.

Let me know what if any changes you make to the letter.

It should come directly from you.

Brent

In a followup...

Brian, i appreciate this email and sincerely respect your
efforts...we need you and your group. We must succeed.
Clay has not seen your. Letter after we spoke i retrieved the letter
so you and i can discuss as you had wished. Again, thanks. brent

So the guy says this to me and at the same time he is telling Clay how "sickened" he is. Sounds like a lack of honesty there...