It's the lease, stupid!
As the City of Seattle's case against the Professional Basketball Club starts to pick up steam as it races toward the court date we are presented with the final motions that each side presents to argue what should, or should not be included in the case. These motions are presented to the judge to rule on (in limine).
Greg Johns of the Seattle PI has a good summary (here)
With both parties filing "motions of limine" at the final deadline requesting the court to prohibit certain testimonies, Judge Marsha Pechman now has until June 6 to determine which motions she grants for the June 16 trial.
. . .
Among the Sonics' primary charges is that the city's lawsuit is part of an orchestrated plan to force Clay Bennett's ownership group into an untenable money-losing situation in Seattle for the final years of its lease.
The team's lawyers have said the city developed a "Machiavellian plan" intended to bleed Bennett's Pro Basketball Club financially and force a sale to an ownership group led by Microsoft's Ballmer and Seattle developer Matt Griffin.
If allowed by Pechman, this week's motion would strike at the core of that defense strategy.
The motion argues that the city has a right to enforce its lease, there is nothing wrong with having discussions with a local group interested in bringing an NBA franchise to a renovated KeyArena, and therefore, all the Ballmer-related evidence is irrelevant and inadmissible.
"PBC cannot credibly attack the City's motives, as PBC's motives were the same -- to bring the benefits of an NBA team to its members' hometown of Oklahoma City," the motion states. "The difference is that PBC is trying to benefit Oklahoma City by breaching its Lease. The city is trying to benefit Seattle by enforcing the Lease."
This case started out with just the city filing a fairly broad argument, in October of 2007, after Clay Bennett demanded arbitration in September of 2007 to terminate the lease and leave. The case trundled along, arbitration was denied (no shock there), the case was formed in February of 2008. A lot happened though April 22, 2008, when Howard Schultz filed his case. Then the scope changed for the city, limiting it to just the lease.