Southbound Sonics Settle With Seattle

City will be paid up to $75M to let team move to Oklahoma City
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2008 8:06 AM CDT
Seattle SuperSonics owner Clay Bennett smiles during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, July 2, 2008. The Sonics will move to Oklahoma City for the 2008-09 season.   (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Bryan Terry)
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(Newser) – The Seattle Supersonics have reached a last-minute deal with their hometown that will let the team move to Oklahoma City for the start of the next NBA season, reports the Seattle Times. The agreement, made just hours before a judge was to rule on a lawsuit over the team's arena lease, will give the city $45 million now and $30 million more if it has no new NBA team within five years.

"We made it," Sonics owner Clay Bennett told a cheering crowd in his Oklahoma hometown. "The NBA will be in Oklahoma City next season, playing their games." He promised the move would begin today. The Sonics still face a lawsuit from former owner Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, who accuses Bennett of breaking a promise to keep the team in Seattle.