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Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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April 15, 2008 2:24 PM

Gregoire and other officials tell NBA to keep Sonics here

Posted by David Postman

Gov. Chris Gregoire and other state and local leaders sent a letter to NBA Commissioner David Stern today, asking him to stop the Sonics from moving to Oklahoma at least until all the legal issues surrounding the issue can be resolved.

The letter is an attempt to "to express our united support for NBA basketball in Seattle." But Seattle Mayor Greg Nickles didn't sign the letter. It was signed by Gregoire, House Speaker Frank Chopp, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, King County Executive Ron Sims and City Council President Richard Conlin.

The letter says:

Dear Mr. Stern: We respectfully write to express our united support for NBA basketball in Seattle. After more than 40 years in Seattle and one World Championship, we strongly oppose the move of our Seattle Supersonics from the Pacific Northwest.

Seattle is a great basketball town and an incredible market for your product. As a gateway to Asia, Seattle is home to many international companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks and Boeing. We believe that a decision to move this franchise from our great city, a city with a long and storied history in the NBA, will be a significant setback for the NBA in its move to become an even more recognized sport in the global marketplace. Moreover, we are convinced that the Seattle market is much stronger and more beneficial to the league than the proposed Oklahoma City market or several markets that currently are in the league.

The city of Seattle has a validly enforceable lease with the team and currently is in court to ensure the lease will be fully executed. Recent public disclosures also indicate that the new owners were never, in fact, acting in good faith to keep the team here in Seattle. These factors lead to the very strong conclusion that any move of the team away from Seattle would be a breach of faith with the fans, breach of contract with the previous owners, a violation of the lease with the city and contrary to the league’s stated intentions regarding franchise relocation.

We, therefore, respectfully request that you remove the relocation issue from your agenda until the many complicated legal and financial matters can be worked out. In any event, we ask that relocation be rejected or in the alternative that no decision be made at this time on relocation of our team.

We recognize that these decisions are difficult but we believe Seattle’s significant history in the NBA and its strategic position in the global marketplace are worthy of your serious consideration as you move forward.

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