OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -Oklahoma City residents will vote March 4 on whether to levy a one-cent sales tax to pay for improvements at the Ford Center in hopes of luring an NBA team.
The vote, set Wednesday by the City Council, will take place about six weeks before NBA owners meet to vote on an application by the Seattle SuperSonics to relocate to Oklahoma City.
The tax would last for 15 months, starting on Jan. 1, 2009, the day after a current one-cent sales tax used to fund school improvements expires, and would generate an estimated $121.6 million. It would also pay for an NBA practice facility.
The efforts of the Sonics' Oklahoma City-based ownership group, led by Clay Bennett, to move the team from Seattle has ended up in federal court, where a judge will decide whether the team must honor the final three years of its lease at Seattle's KeyArena, the NBA's smallest venue. The team's lease expires after the 2009-2010 season.
The Ford Center recently hosted the New Orleans Hornets for two seasons after Hurricane Katrina forced the team's temporary relocation, and average attendance was 18,329, about 1,000 below the arena's capacity.
The building opened in 2002 and cost about $89 million to build.

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