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City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Statement by Mayor Nickels on the settlement of the City's lawsuit with the Seattle Sonics

7/2/2008  5:00:00 PM

Statement by Mayor Nickels on the settlement of
the City's lawsuit with the Seattle Sonics

Today, I am announcing a settlement with Mr. Bennett and the Professional Basketball Club.  Our goals for the settlement were two:  To protect the taxpayers’ investment in KeyArena and have a long-term future for professional basketball.

In exchange for terminating the lease two years early, Mr. Bennett has agreed to settlement package with a payment up to $75 million to the City of Seattle.  Under the agreement, $45 million will be paid to the City immediately.  That covers rent and loss of tax revenue, and allows us to pay off outstanding debt on KeyArena.

Our agreement calls for Mr. Bennett and his co-owners to pay an additional $30 million in 2013—if the NBA has not approved a team to play in Seattle.
The NBA was an important part of our negotiations—agreeing that a renovated KeyArena can be a competitive NBA facility.  This is a crucial point for us.   A KeyArena with professional basketball is a cornerstone for a vibrant Seattle Center.

The NBA has committed to helping us secure a future team—informing us of any sale, relocation or expansion opportunities. 

Committed local ownership is critical—and we are grateful that Steve Ballmer and his group, represented here by Matt Griffin, are working to secure a new team.

The city is ready to do its part.  Local investors have stepped up.  Now, the State Legislature must act.  If it fails to approve public funding next year to remodel KeyArena, we will lose our rights to that $30 million payment if we do not get a team.

I believed all along that enforcing our lease would create time for a better deal.  We now have that deal.

The Sonics name and history stay in Seattle.  Seattle is a natural home for professional basketball—loyal fans, and a rich, 40-year tradition. 

Working together, we are now in the best position to continue that legacy in Seattle. 


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