Sonics Trial Blog
Seattle Times reporters Percy Allen, Jim Brunner and Danny O'Neil are filing updates from the courthouse throughout the day.
June 17, 2008 2:54 PM
Posted by Percy Allen
Sonics chairman Clay Bennett told Sonics attorney Brad Keller that after he bought the team, he felt he could get state lawmakers to approve money for a $500 million arena. He thought his outsider status would give him leverage that the previous owners did not have because they have strong ties to Seattle.
Bennett said he turned down ownership offers ranging from $20-50 million from potential investors.
Keller admitted Exhibit 94, a summary of the funding package for the $500 million Renton arena project. The report says Bennett would pay for the gap between the funding, which would have been $100 million.
Keller showed a clip of Bennett at the state Senate Ways and Means Committee. This clip is longer than the one shown by Seattle attorney Paul Lawrence. In the clip, a state lawmaker asks Bennett what he would commit to the team. Bennett said he committed $350 million, which was the price he paid for the team. He said he's committed to putting a winner on the court and talked about recruiting former Sonics legend Lenny Wilkens as a top executive. Wilkens was released last year.
Bennett said he hired HOK architectural firm to analyze KeyArena.
Bennett said the need for NBA specified facilities -- the size of locker-room and press facilities forced him to look at a new arena rather than renovating KeyArena.
Bennett said he spoke with numerous business and civic leaders to help him gain support from state lawmakers.
Bennett said he narrowed the choices of the new arena to Bellevue and Renton. Bellevue, however, would have been very expensive and it would have been problematic to build parking facilities near an arena. Before eliminating Bellevue, Bennett met with representatives from Microsoft.
Bennett said he made two appearances in Olympia to lobby for state funding toward a new Renton arena. He said he was "getting signals that we were making progress and continued to push."
"We were getting signals that we were having trouble and that's when we began a consumer push from (Sonics) staff," Bennett said. The push was an e-mail blast from Sonics employees asking state lawmakers for their support.
Keller introduced numerous exhibits, which detailed the Sonics ownership group's attempt to lobby state lawmakers.
In an e-mail to Bennett, adviser Jim Kneeland wrote: "We are sending out blast e-mails Monday morning letting opinion leaders supporters know that this is the last week to make a difference and convince the Governor and the legislative leadership. Ryan Blethen came through with a great editorial in this morning Times."
In a Feb. 15, 2007 e-mail, Bennett wrote to Microsoft's Steve Ballmer (who this year lead a group wanting to fund a renovation of KeyArena): "Speaker Chopp blasted us this afternoon. Would appreciate anything you would be willing to do! Thanks."
Responding to Keller's question about how he felt when the Renton plan died, Bennett said: "After that I re-grouped, became a man possessed and expanded the process."
Keller introduced Exhibit 62, the sale agreement between the Professional Basketball Club (PBC) and the Basketball Club of Seattle (BCOS).
The agreement says: "For a period of 12 months after the Closing Date, Buyer shall use good faith best efforts to negotiate an arena lease, purchase use or similar arrangement in the King, Pierce or Snohomish Counties of Washington as a venue for the team's games to be used as a successor venue to KeyArena provided ... use of similar arrangement shall be at the Buyer's sole discretion."
Lawrence objected to Exhibit 62 being admitted as evidence. Pechman overruled.
At 2:47 p.m., Pechman broke for a 15-minute recess.
Jul 2, 08 - 02:01 PM
Godden: Looks like a settlement for Sonics and city
Jul 2, 08 - 11:49 AM
City and the Sonics discussing settlement?
Jul 2, 08 - 06:00 AM
Judge to rule today in Sonics case
Jun 26, 08 - 07:44 PM
Confidential? Let's talk about it: Slade Gorton's NBA meeting
Jun 26, 08 - 07:22 PM
Press conference audio
Sonics attorneys focus on city's "poisoned well" plan
Bennett says Sonics could lose $60 million if forced to stay in Seattle 2 more years
Sonics CEO: Fans are apathetic
Clay's excuses sound as contrived as his arena plan
On the hot seat: Sonics' attorney trips up Nickels
Attorneys in Sonics case described as tenacious, polite
This judge will decide the fate of the Sonics
Seattle vs. Sonics: Trial starts next week, if there's no settlement
Take a closer look at the Sonics case
More revealing Sonics e-mails emerge
OKC officials inform Schultz they expect Sonics to relocate, no matter who owns team
Sonics e-mail hints at NBA's concern over breach of promise
Howard Schultz suit adds fuel to e-mail fire
NBA owners approve Sonics' move, but legal fight continues in Seattle
E-mails reveal Sonics owners intended to bolt from Seattle
Oklahoma House passes tax package designed to help lure Sonics
2007 "Poisoned Well" document (PDF)
Ward: "Are we doomed to have another lameduck season in Seattle?" (PDF)
Bennett's e-mail to Stern: "You are just one of my favorite people on earth" (PDF)
Clay Bennett and Sonics' court filing (PDF)
Gallery | Seattle SuperSonics: Lasting memories
Gallery | Bittersweet night for Sonics fans
Gallery | Sonics through the years
Gallery | 25th anniversary of Sonics world championship
Gallery | End of a Season, End of a Franchise?
Sports fan "Big Lo" seeks answers from Howard Schultz