The city of Seattle and the basketball team formerly known as the Seattle SuperSonics have apparently settled their differences. I’ve been listening to the radio pickup from Seattle’s City Hall. They’re putting the best possible face on it and it’s a pretty good face, considering they’re getting rather more of a concession from Clay Bennett and friends than had been previously offered: $45 million up front to get out of the lease, which would more than cover the amount still due on KeyArena, and conceivably another $30 million [see below]. It’s a big chunk of change, but I’m guessing it’s probably about what Bennett expected to lose in two lame-duck years in Seattle.
The separate Schultz lawsuit has not been settled, but I expect it will wither away shortly.
And note that word “formerly”: Seattle retains the rights to the name “SuperSonics” and the team colors, which is fine with me.
Addendum: Commissioner David Stern weighs in:
[I]f an opportunity arose in the future for an NBA team to be located in Seattle, we would support that team playing its home games in a re-built KeyArena, if it wished. However, given the lead times associated with any franchise acquisition or relocation and with a construction project as complex as a KeyArena renovation, authorization of the public funding needs to occur by the end of 2009 in order for there to be any chance for the NBA to return to Seattle within the next five years.
And if the funding is authorized, today’s settlement calls for Bennett et al. to ante up $30 million unless Seattle gets another team within five years.