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Sonics Trial Blog

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 2:03 PM

Just how much do the Sonics matter to the local economy?

Posted by Percy Allen

We're back from lunch. Before intermission, Seattle attorney Paul Lawrence asked economist Brad Humphreys to clarify his area of expertise. Earlier, Humphreys said there be no impact on the economy if the Sonics left town. He said if fans didn't spend their money on the Sonics, then they would spend it on something else.

Lawrence made sure to point out that Humphreys' studies were about metropolitan areas and not specifically cities or towns.

Lawrence presented Humphreys' deposition in which the economist agreed when asked that the gross economic benefit to the KeyArena area would be lost if the Sonics left.

Lawrence is trying to distinguish between a smaller area such as the KeyArena area and the city as opposed to the much larger Seattle metropolitan area. Seattle has a population of 582,454, it was pointed out, and the population of the Seattle Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, is 3,263,497.

Lawrence is continuing to make the point that fans who do not buy Sonics tickets may spend their money in Bellevue or Tacoma -- not Seattle -- if the team leaves. Humphreys agreed.

After several minutes of verbal sparring, Lawrence finally got Humphreys to admit that he doesn't know if Seattle would suffer a loss if the Sonics were to leave because he hasn't specifically studied cities.

Humphreys agreed that there are intangible benefits to having a sport team, which include community spirit and local pride. In his deposition, Humphreys said it is "difficult, but not impossible" to put a dollar figure on those benefits.

Lawrence noted that the Sonics are spending $3.5 million on attorney fees.

A point of clarification to an earlier post: I was told by someone inside the courtroom that the verbal spat between Sonics attorney Brad Keller and Lawrence, was started by Seattle attorney Jeffrey Johnson and not Keller as was reported.

The sparring took place just before the second morning session began.

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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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Documents

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)

Multimedia

Gallery | Seattle SuperSonics: Lasting memories
Gallery | Bittersweet night for Sonics fans
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Fans weigh in about the state of the Sonics
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Talk about the team in the Sonics forum

Other links

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