Judge Blocks Sonics From Taking Arena Dispute To Arbitration

Tuesday, October 30th 2007, 7:59 am
By: News On 6

SEATTLE (AP) _ A federal judge says that the Seattle SuperSonics may not seek to escape their lease at KeyArena through arbitration.

The decision Monday was a victory for the city and means officials may continue to seek a court order forcing the Sonics to play the next three seasons at the Seattle Center venue.

Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr says the city wants an order from the judge saying they cannot escape the terms of their lease.

Bradley Keller, an attorney for the team, says it's important to note that the decision addresses the forum in which the dispute will be decided, not the merits of the case.

New Sonics chairman Clay Bennett, an Oklahoma City businessman, failed to win public funding this year to build a new arena.

Last month, he issued a demand for arbitration, hoping to buy out the remainder of the lease unless a deal on a new facility could be reached by the end of this month.

In response, the city sued, trying to force the Sonics to honor the terms of a lease deal reached in the mid-1990s.