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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 20, 2008 3:03 PM

Walker had predicted an ugly trial over Sonics' relocation

Posted by Percy Allen

Sonics attorney Brad Keller closed out his questioning of developer Matt Griffin by going over the efforts during the last legislative session to fund a $300 million renovation of KeyArena.

That proposal was a last-ditch effort to get an acceptable arena plan together before the NBA voted to approve the Sonics' relocation to Oklahoma City. Griffin was working with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and other businessmen, who said they'd pay half the cost of the project.

Keller pointed to an e-mail by Wally Walker, former Sonics president, to Griffin in March 2008. Walker warned in that e-mail that politicians needed to get something done this year and not put off a decision. (Legislators in fact did put off the decision, deciding to form a task force for next year.)

Walker wrote "the gig may be up for good if we don't succeed now." Absent a funded arena, he predicted a nasty trial over the Sonics' relocation.

"Think of how ugly the trial will be, how ugly the Sonics' departure will be," Walker wrote.

Keller concluded his direct examination and Seattle attorney Paul Lawrence began cross examination. Lawrence asked Griffin what his goals were in getting involved with the KeyArena plan.

Griffin said he and Ballmer wanted to maintain the health of KeyArena and preserve NBA basketball for the city.

"If it was possible for it to be the Sonics that would be great, but if it was another NBA team that would satisfy our objectives as well," Griffin said.

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July 2008

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