SEATTLE - The City of Seattle took the cash today, rather than enforce the lease for the next two years.
Statement by Mayor Nickels on the settlement of the City's lawsuit with the Seattle Sonics
Today, I [Mayor Nickels] am announcing a settlement with Mr. Bennett and the Professional Basketball Club. Our goals for the settlement were two: To protect the taxpayersâ€™ investment in KeyArena and have a long-term future for professional basketball.
In exchange for terminating the lease two years early, Mr. Bennett has agreed to settlement package with a payment up to $75 million to the City of Seattle. Under the agreement, $45 million will be paid to the City immediately. That covers rent and loss of tax revenue, and allows us to pay off outstanding debt on KeyArena.
Our agreement calls for Mr. Bennett and his co-owners to pay an additional $30 million in 2013â€”if the NBA has not approved a team to play in Seattle.
The NBA was an important part of our negotiationsâ€”agreeing that a renovated KeyArena can be a competitive NBA facility. This is a crucial point for us. A KeyArena with professional basketball is a cornerstone for a vibrant Seattle Center.
The NBA has committed to helping us secure a future teamâ€”informing us of any sale, relocation or expansion opportunities.
Committed local ownership is criticalâ€”and we are grateful that Steve Ballmer and his group, represented here by Matt Griffin, are working to secure a new team.
The city is ready to do its part. Local investors have stepped up. Now, the State Legislature must act. If it fails to approve public funding next year to remodel KeyArena, we will lose our rights to that $30 million payment if we do not get a team.
I believed all along that enforcing our lease would create time for a better deal. We now have that deal.
The Sonics name and history stay in Seattle. Seattle is a natural home for professional basketballâ€”loyal fans, and a rich, 40-year tradition.
Working together, we are now in the best position to continue that legacy in Seattle.
No team for the fans, cash for the city, an IOU from Clay Bennett if we cash the IOU from the State of Washington, nothing for the fans.
We were screwed. That offer was not going to get worse with time, and with a court win, they took money from somebody that has money, but the mayor, Mayor Nickels, said it wasn't about the money in his testimony; it was about enforcing the lease, and retaining NBA basketball in Seattle; neither happened.
Thanks for almost rising to the challenge Mayor Nickels.
I hate Clay Bennett, I watched him lie, and now I watched Mayor Nickels let him get away with it.
Thanks to Brian, Steve, Xteve, Grif, everybody that fueled SaveOurSonics.org
I have maintained that it has not, and is not, because of the fans that any of this is happening. The owners, the politicians, and especially the NBA, all have failed you.
Shame on them.