OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -City Council members unanimously approved a preliminary lease agreement with the Seattle SuperSonics Tuesday, hours before a planned visit by NBA commissioner David Stern.
The 15-year deal, contingent on the team's relocation to Oklahoma City, calls for the SuperSonics to pay the city $1.6 million annually to use the Ford Center and another $409,000 per year to be able to re-sell the arena's naming rights.
Former Oklahoma state Rep. Wanda Jo Stapleton voiced concerns to the council that planned renovations to the Ford Center could exceed the $121 million in a sales tax extension approved by voters for this purpose.
Mayor Mick Cornett said the clear intent was to keep the project within budget.
The sales-tax extension is to also pay for the construction of an approximately $24 million practice facility.
Stern and four NBA team owners were expected to visit the city later Tueday to gather information for a league vote next month on whether the Sonics can relocate.
The Sonics' lease in Seattle runs through 2010, and a federal trial is scheduled for June to determine whether the team can break it.
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