The Seattle P-I editorial board gives credit where none is due:
Still, principal owner Clay Bennett deserves credit for sincerity in his efforts to work out a deal that keeps the team in the Seattle area.
Um… okay, let me get this straight. After failing to secure $200 million in public funding for a $220 million expansion of Key Arena, a frustrated Howard Schultz sells the team to Clay Bennett, a prominent Oklahoma City businessman. Then, fully aware of the cold reception local icon Schultz received from lawmakers, and only months after 74-percent of Seattle voters rejected a public subsidy by approving I-91, the Sonics’ new owner — hailing from a city famous for its basketball jones — asks taxpayers to contribute $400 million towards what would be the most expensive arena in the entire NBA, but with no public vote.
And I’m supposed to believe this effort is sincere?
Call me a cynic, but I never believed Bennett ever intended to keep the team in Seattle. Even the most casual observer of Washington politics could have told Bennett that his $530 million hoop dream would be D.O.A., so I can’t help but view it as a disingenuous con game intended to fill Key Arena with gullible fans until the lease expires in 2010. But it’s hard to keep fans in the seats when you put such a crappy product on the court, so now Bennett is hinting that he may not even honor the last couple years of the lease.
“I would expect we would stay, but I’m not so sure a lame duck franchise is good for anybody.”
I suppose it is possible that our Legislature could foil Bennett’s plan by being stupid enough to give him what he’s asking for. But I’m guessing not even Bennett thinks it likely.