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Seattle's WNBA team considering moving

Updated:

SEATTLE (AP) _ The Seattle Storm of the WNBA says it has lost more than $3 million in its first three seasons and is considering moving to another Washington city when its Key Arena lease expires Dec. 31.

Cities under consideration are Spokane, Yakima, Tacoma and Everett.

``The new WNBA operating agreement grants teams the right to play home games in non-NBA arenas,'' Karen Bryant, Storm operations vice president, said Thursday.

``Given this opportunity, the Storm has explored other arena options in our region including Spokane, Yakima, Tacoma and Everett in addition to returning to Key Arena,'' she said.

The Basketball Club of Seattle, which also owns the NBA Seattle SuperSonics, owns the Storm. Seattle-based Starbucks Corp. Chairman Howard Schultz is the club's chairman.

Storm officials and the city of Seattle have met to discuss renewing the current lease, Bryant said, adding she has also talked to representatives of the other cities.

``Currently our attention is focused on working with the city of Seattle to renew the lease at Key Arena for the 2003 Storm season and beyond,'' Bryant said. ``We look forward to a resolution in the near future.''

Bryant said any move away from Key Arena, which is also the home of the Sonics, would be done to cut costs.

``We have lost more than $1 million in each of the last three seasons,'' Bryant said when asked if the Storm wanted a cheaper lease. ``What we're trying to accomplish is to educate ourselves on what some of our other options are and engage in an open dialogue with the city at the same time for a lease agreement that is mutually beneficial for both sides.''

Bryant wouldn't offer odds on whether the team would move.

``I really don't want to speculate,'' she said. ``That's premature and I don't want to undermine the ongoing discussions.''

With rookie guard Sue Bird on its roster, the Storm made the WNBA playoffs for the first time this season, when it posted a 17-15 record. It lost to the eventual WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks in three straight games in the playoffs.

In its first season, in 2000, the Storm had a 6-26 record and averaged 8,912 fans at Key Arena. It was 10-22 with an average home attendance of 5,954 in 2001.

The WNBA seasons runs from May to September. The Storm's schedule for the 2003 season will be announced in January.

The Sonics' lease to play in Key Arena runs through the 2008-2009 NBA season.
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