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Seattle Times reporters Percy Allen, Jim Brunner and Danny O'Neil are filing updates from the courthouse throughout the day.

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June 19, 2008 1:32 PM

City tells how much it spent on witness who got clobbered

Posted by Jim Brunner

Seattle paid $17,753 for the expert testimony of Andrew Zimbalist, the Smith College economics professor whose credibility was ripped by a Sonics attorney on the witness stand Tuesday.

According to figures released today by Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr's office, that amount included a basic fee of $10,000, plus other charges for time and expenses.

Zimbalist is a renowned expert on sports economics who testified on Tuesday that the presence of the Sonics in Seattle creates intangible benefits such as -- civic pride and water-cooler chatter associated with the team -- that cannot be calculated in terms of a cash payment.

Zimbalist prepared a 21-page report for the city stating his conclusions, on which he estimated working 20 hours or so.

But he was savaged on the witness stand Tuesday by Sonics' attorney Paul Taylor, who pointed out that Zimbalist copied sections of his report for Seattle from a report he'd done two years ago for Anaheim.

Zimbalist responded that those sections were largely background discussions of economics, but grew flustered under the brutal questioning.

Even worse for the city's case, Zimbalist was able to arrive at a dollar figure of more than $7 million for some of the intangible benefits brought by the Angels baseball team. But in his report for Seattle he said he couldn't arrive at a dollar figure.

Zimbalist tried to explain that he'd been talking about somewhat different questions in the two cities, but Judge Marsha Pechman wouldn't hear it.

"Do I understand that you came up with a number in Los Angeles on page N that would be 7.75 million, but you are unable to come that up with a number in Seattle?" Pechman asked.

"Yes. And as I explained..." Zimbalist started to say.

"Thank you. You've answered my question," Pechman said.

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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
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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)

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Other links

Trial coverage from www.newok.com
ESPN.com | Hope (still) springs in Seattle