Oklahoma City officials threatened to sue former Sonics owner Howard Schultz if he reclaims the team and does not move it to the Sooner...
Oklahoma City officials threatened to sue former Sonics owner Howard Schultz if he reclaims the team and does not move it to the Sooner State.
In a nine-page letter sent to Schultz’s attorney Thursday, an assistant municipal counselor for Oklahoma City wrote “there is an expectation by City leadership and citizens that the owners of the Team, whomever they may be, will honor all of the Team’s contractual obligations with the City including the contractual obligation to relocate to Oklahoma City and to play home games at the Ford Center for the duration of the term of the lease.”
Last month Schultz filed a lawsuit on behalf of the team’s former ownership group to rescind the July 2006 sale to Oklahoma City-based investors led by Clay Bennett, claiming fraud.
Bennett’s group also is being sued by the city of Seattle in a separate lawsuit to force the team to play the next two seasons at KeyArena.
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Schultz’s attorney, Richard Yarmuth, said the Starbucks chairman will not drop his lawsuit and intends to resell the team to owners who will keep the team in Seattle.
“It [the Oklahoma City letter] doesn’t affect his lawsuit in any way,” Yarmuth said Friday. “Neither the purpose, the prosecution or the likely outcome.”
In his letter, Wiley Williams wrote on behalf of Mayor Mick Cornett and other Oklahoma City officials that they had been preparing for the Sonics long before the NBA Board of Governors approved the team’s relocation request on April 18.
After Oklahoma City voters overwhelmingly approved a $120 million tax package to improve the Ford Center and build a new NBA practice facility, city officials reached four agreements with the Sonics, including a 15-year arena lease.
According to the letter, Oklahoma City is prepared to sue if the team doesn’t relocate.
“We expect that any subsequent owner or owners would join hands with the city, and its citizens, and honor the OKC NBA agreements, made in good faith, and perform as good corporate neighbors to make NBA basketball a success in Oklahoma City,” Williams wrote.
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.