Sonics owner to judge: 'I'm not a real popular guy' in Seattle
SEATTLE - Sonics owner Clay Bennett has testified he made mistakes in dealing with the city of Seattle after he bought the team in 2006. But he also said forcing him to keep the team in Seattle would cause more than financial problems.
On the witness stand Wednesday he suggested he misunderstood the region's political climate. He also said he was unwilling to agree to cover cost overruns for a new stadium. Bennett says if the Sonics are forced to play two more seasons in the Key Arena they would lose $60 million. Even worse, Bennett said his team would be less likely to attract talented players and coaches.
Under friendly questioning from Sonics attorney Brad Keller, Bennet said that most talented players in the league would avoid coming to Seattle to play for only two years. Were the team to move to Oklahome City, however, the Sonics would make $17 million over the the same time period.
Bennett also spelled out the positive virtues of Oklahoma City, namely the fans' support of the NBA there, and acknowledged that he's "not a real popular guy" in Seattle.
The city is suing the Sonics to force the team to honor its arena lease. Bennett wants to buy out the lease and leave town for Oklahoma City as soon as possible.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)