SEATTLE – SuperSonics majority owner Clay Bennett says the NBA team likely will not play in Seattle beyond the 2007-08 season.
Bennett said Tuesday that Gov. Chris Gregoire won’t call lawmakers into special session so the team can continue to push for taxpayer money for a new $500 million arena. And he said the Sonics will honor their KeyArena lease that runs through 2010 – but most likely only through “a legal exercise.”
“That may or may not mean the team will play there,” Bennett said.
Bennett, whose investor group bought the team last year from a local group headed by Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz, is a prominent Oklahoma City businessman, and the sale prompted widespread fear among Sonics fans the team would be moved to Oklahoma. Bennett promised to keep the team in the Seattle area if a deal could be struck for a new arena.
On Monday, legislative leaders decided not to consider the plan for a new arena in suburban Renton during the regular session, which is due to end by Sunday. Bennett said he had no hope Gregoire would call lawmakers back.
“She said the special session is not (going to) happen,” Bennett said.
Gregoire’s spokeswoman later disputed Bennett’s account of his conversation with Gregoire.
“The governor has no recollection of any mention of a special session during her phone call with Clay Bennett,” said Holly Armstrong, Gregoire’s spokeswoman.