City Council may pass law to force Sonics to stay
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Seattle City Council is considering passing a law to hold the Seattle Sonics owners to their lease at KeyArena and barring them from buying their way out of the contract.
Council members Richard McIver and Nick Licata are asking the city's lawyers to review the ordinance, modeled after Initiative 93, which a fan group hopes to place on the February ballot.
"We need to make it clear we don't want the owners to buy out of their contract," McIver said. "Maybe it will get the league to look at the market in Oklahoma and whether it can support a team." He plans to introduce the ordinance when the council meets next on Sept. 4.
Mayor Greg Nickels has said several times that he will hold the Sonics to their lease through September 2010.
Brian Robinson, co-founder of the fan group Save Our Sonics & Storm, which filed the initiative, said he's happy the council might adopt the measure without waiting for a public vote.
"There is universal support for this," he said. He said Sonics co-owner Aubrey McClendon's recent statement that the owners always intended to move the team to Oklahoma has galvanized public sentiment against allowing the teams to leave town easily.
The proposed law says the city cannot take any action that "would allow vacation of the leased premises before the end of the term of such lease."
Any Seattle citizen, the proposed language says, would have the right to challenge any action violating the ordinance.
Councilmember Sally Clark says she supports it. "I like the idea of saying, 'You signed a lease, and we expect you to be here until then.' "
Staff reporter Jim Brunner contributed to this report. Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or email@example.com
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