(AFP) – Sep 21, 2007
SEATTLE, United States (AFP) — Seattle Supersonics owner Clay Bennett filed paperwork Friday to have an arbitrator rule on whether or not the club could escape the last two years of its arena lease and relocate.
The team has sought construction of a new home arena and Bennett is from Oklahoma City, which drew rave reviews as a temporary home for the National Basketball Association Hornets after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.
The Hornets are back in Louisiana and Oklahoma City is seen as a prime candidate for any franchise looking to relocate, which the Sonics would without a new arena, Bennett said.
"The franchise will not remain in this marketplace without a new arena," said Bennett. "We will not break the lease. We will operate within the legal perimeters set forth in the document, which we now hope will be more clearly defined, and with the guidance of the NBA commissioner and the other owners."
A deadline for having a new arena deal in place is set for October 31, the day the upcoming NBA season opens, and Bennett has seen little to give him hope a deal will be made in the next 40 days.
"We've seen nothing tangible. We've seen nothing come together that is formal, legal or binding that would suggest the development of an arena," he said.
"We believe it does not make sense to stand and wait and watch the clock strike 12 on October 31. It's clear that we need to make things happen and get more engaged in advance of that deadline.
"KeyArena is not a viable NBA arena. A renovated KeyArena is not a viable NBA arena."
Bennett, who repeated he has no desire to sell the club, said he wants to move the team's potential relocation application away from November 1 and the start of the Sonics' season.
"There is no new time or date set, except to say that we are developing our application, and we will file," said Bennett.
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