|Sonics' owner Bennett calls for restart of arena talks|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 19 July 2007 10:01|
Bennett has been mostly silent on the issue since the Washington legislature adjourned in April without taking action on a proposal that would have contributed about $300 million in public money for a new arena for the Sonics and WNBA's Storm.
Wednesday was the one-year anniversary of Bennett's purchase of the Sonics from Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz.
``The clock is ticking and we wanted to again bring a call to action and raise the issue and bring people to the table and get serious about what needs to get done,'' Bennett said in an interview.
Bennett spoke with Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels on Thursday morning to arrange an in-person meeting. In a statement released earlier in the day, Bennett said Nickels is ``the appropriate person to provide leadership and guidance on this issue.''
Bennett hopes Nickels may be able to bring other civic and private leaders together to work on a new arena deal.
``(He) was extremely receptive and considerate in phone conversation,'' Bennett said. ``It's not so much to provide public money, but he is someone who can provide leadership and bring people to the table in his capacity as mayor ... and help address the issue.''
The city wants to hear what Bennett has to say in person.
``We'll take the discussion from that point and see where the initial meeting goes,'' Nickels spokesman Marty McOmber said.
Bennett has set an Oct. 31 deadline - one year from the date his purchase of the franchise closed - for finding an arena solution. If no progress is made, Bennett has promised to begin relocating the team, most likely to his hometown of Oklahoma City or to Kansas City, which is looking for an anchor tenant for its new arena.
Before it adjourned, the legislature rejected a plan to use King County tax revenues to cover $278 million of a proposed $500 million arena in the suburb of Renton.
Short of Bennett asking Gov. Chris Gregoire to call back lawmakers for a special session to reconsider the issue - which the governor's office confirms Bennett has not done - there is no way the Sonics can get public money approved for a building before Bennett's deadline.
Bennett said he's open to all public and private options.
``We're open to any idea that helps us get into a new building,'' he said.