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It's on you, Clay and OKC

As reported today in the Oklahoma City newspaper, The Oklahoman ( NewsOK.com ), staff writer Randy Ellis reports that the attorney for Howard Schultz has responded to the letter sent by OKC to the Schultz group back on May 8th. The letter from May 8 claimed that the owner of the Sonics, Bennett or Schultz, would be responsible for the remodel of the Ford Center that is being done in preparation for the relocation of the Sonics.

The response by Schultz's attorney, Richard Yarmuth, is of the opinion (shared by many, here, there, and those not recently kicked in the head by a horse) that the agreement is with the Bennett group and not with whomever owns the Sonics.

"It is not correct that Oklahoma City has contracts with ‘the owners of the team, whomever they may be...,” Yarmuth wrote. "The city's contracts are with the Bennett Group, and no one else.
"If the Bennett Group is successful in retaining ownership of the Sonics and moving the team to Oklahoma City, then your contracts presumably will be valid and enforceable against them. However, if it comes to pass that the Bennett Group loses its franchise rights — as a result of the ...(Schultz) lawsuit or otherwise — then your contracts with the Bennett Group will be of no legal force or effect against any other party who winds up owning the team.”
Dan Mahoney, spokesman for the Sonics' current owners, said Thursday they would have no comment.
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett also declined to comment . . . NewsOK.com

Here is the gist of the OKC claim:

In Oklahoma City's earlier letter to the Schultz Group, the city stated it would be spending as much as $120 million on projects to upgrade the Ford Center and build a practice facility in anticipation of the Sonics arrival.

Back to Mr. Yarmuth's points:

Yarmuth said he believes Oklahoma City has at least three choices.

  • •Wait until the lawsuits affecting the team's status are resolved before spending public funds.
  • •Continue spending public funds on improvements, knowing that "from a taxpayer perspective...betting on the Bennett Group poses a real risk, given the uncertainty of future events.”
  • •Ask the team's Oklahoma owners to indemnify the city against any losses it could sustain before spending any more money.
  • "While Oklahoma City may be eager to begin improvements and construction of its sports facilities, the city has no existing obligation in this regard and cannot expect to hold anyone else responsible for the city's choice if the city's choice turns out to be wrong,” he wrote.
    At least three lawsuits are pending that challenge efforts by Sonics owners to move the team to Oklahoma. NewsOK.com

    Well, duh.

    Clay, you lose to Howard, you may owe your hometown $120 million dollars. The PBR will enjoy the upgrades!