This coming July 2 will be the third anniversary of when the City of Seattle lost the Sonics. That day, Mayor Greg Nickels signed an agreement with the devil—Sonics owner Clay Bennett, who moved the team to Oklahoma City. With the signing of that agreement, the Sonics were gone.
The City of Seattle entered into an agreement to allow Bennett out of the last two years of his lease of KeyArena. In return, the city received $45 million with a possible extra $30 million. The $30 million was dependent upon the state legislation approving funding in their next session for a new arena or remodel of KeyArena and if Seattle did not get another NBA team by 2013.
This agreement was made hours before Judge Peachman was set to make her ruling. She was ruling on whether Bennett would have to fulfill the requirements and keep the Sonics in Seattle for the last two years of the lease. I will always believe Seattle should have held out for the judge's ruling instead of selling out.
When the city sold out for $45 million, not only did they sellout the Sonics fans but they also sold out the businesses around KeyArena. KeyArena management has yet to replace losing those 41 Sonics home games plus any possible playoff games.
The Key Arena also lost the 36 Seattle Thunderbirds home games to the City of Kent. I am sure the restaurants and businesses around ShoWare Center are enjoying the increase in business when the T-Birds are in town.
Looking over the events at KeyArena during the same time period of the last NBA season, it held only 47 events. Most were Seattle University basketball games that brought in crowds of about 3,500-4,000 (Portland and UW games had higher attendance). Plus, five of those 47 events were free public ice skating. I doubt those events brought in the same crowds as Sonics' games.
The NBA won't come back to Seattle until there is funding for a new arena or the remodel of Key Arena. Funding was not approved by the state legislature and so was gone any chance at Bennett's $30 million.
I have a hard time accepting that the Sonics are gone. As a child, my dream was to be Downtown Freddie Brown and play for the Sonics. It did not matter that I was a girl and a little height-challenged for basketball. I just knew it was cool to watch Freddie sink his outside shots and when I was growing up, there was no WNBA.
Sonics players like Sikma, D.J., Big Smooth, X-Man, G.P. and the Rainman will always be part of my original Sonics memories. Someday, Seattle will have another NBA team. It just won't be the original Sonics team I fell in love with as a child.
If you are interested in seeing pro basketball in Seattle at least for a day there will be a charity game held on July 23 at KeyArena, featuring current local NBA players and ex-Sonics players. For more information go to www.hoops206.com.
Sonicsgate, an award-winning documentary, detailed how Seattle lost the Sonics and can be viewed for free at www.sonicsgate.org.