City View Newsletter
The Mayor this afternoon at 5 p.m. announced a settlement of the city's lawsuit with the Sonics. You can read the Mayor's statement here. Eight city council members, including myself, signed a letter of endorsement of the settlement earlier today. (Councilmember Tom Rasmussen is out of the city.)
It's a sad day for Sonics' fans and for all sports fans. But, when one peels back the emotional layers, the settlement makes very good sense.
First, even if the city had prevailed in Federal Court that victory would have been quite hollow, only two more years of the Sonics playing in Seattle and a great deal of bitterness and hostile relations with the NBA. After those two years, the Sonics would leave and we would have absolutely no chance of a future team. The settlement repairs the city's relationship with the NBA and allows the city to maintain the Sonics' name, history, and memorabilia. The settlement protects our historical memories and shifts our focus toward a long-term solution--a new team.
Second, the settlement puts the city in a good position to snag a future team either through relocation of another team, purchase of a franchise, or an expansion team. The NBA has agreed to facilitate the city's pursuit of another team.
Third, the settlement properly reimburses the city for lost rent and other monetary losses caused by the immediate relocation of the Sonics. The settlement amount is large enough to also pay off all of the outstanding Key Arena debt, plus more.
So, it's a bittersweet day, for certain. But I believe the city has made a wise, long-term, and fiscally prudent decision.