Seattle Criticized For Handling Of SuperSonics Deal
Thursday, November 8th 2007, 8:30 pm
News On 6
PHOENIX (AP) -- NBA commissioner David Stern warned on Thursday that if the SuperSonics leave Seattle he sees no way the league would ever return to the city.
"I'd love to find a way to keep the team there," he said, "because if the team moves, there's not going to be another team there, not in any conceivable future plan that I could envision, and that would be too bad."
At a news conference following his announcement that the 2009 All-Star game would be held in Phoenix, Stern criticized the city of Seattle and the Washington legislature for its handling of the issue of funding a replacement for Key Arena.
Stern repeated earlier criticism of the mayor and city council for promoting a measure, overwhelmingly passed by voters, that requires any funds to help build an arena earn money at the same rate as a treasury bill.
That measure simply means there is no way city money would ever be used on an arena project, Stern said.
He also lamented that the state legislature refused to even consider continuing a tax that helped fund Seattle's baseball and football stadiums.
"To have the speaker of the house say well, they just spend too much money on salaries anyway, so we need it for other things," Stern said, casts aspersions on the whole league's operations. "We get the message. Hopefully, maybe cooler heads will prevail."
He was referring to a remark by House Speaker Frank Chopp last February when funding for a new arena in the Seattle suburb of Renton was proposed.
Stern's comments were much tougher than the ones he made last June, when he said he believed the issue was "just going to work itself out."
SuperSonics owner Clay Bennett told the NBA last Friday that he plans to move the team to Oklahoma City. When that move would occur depends on outcome of litigation with the city over the franchise's Key Arena lease. The lease calls for the team to play in Seattle through the 2009-10 season, but Bennett wants out sooner.
As the issue becomes more and more contentious, Stern said he hopes "that a white knight that hasn't existed before, somebody who has a building plan of how to keep the team there, will step forward."