by Lang Whitaker

One day after word dropped that the Sonics and Storm are being sold to a group of investors from Oklahoma City, and the fans in Seattle are already mobilizing. Sam is all over the internets checking the blogs, and he posts his findings here.

Turning to all the local papers…

In Oklahoma City, they’re well aware that they’ve gone from sharing the Hornets with New Orleans to having two teams of their own. And now they’re all pumped up about getting their own NBA team, which has apparently been a goal for a while in OKC.

And yet Clayton Bennett, from the new ownership group, says here that he has no plans to move anything, that they want to stay in Seattle, etc. Either he’s really committed to keeping the Sonics in Seattle, or he’s full of crap. Only time will tell.

What it’s really going to come down to, in the end, is whether or not the city of Seattle is willing to shell out big bucks to pay for a new arena. That’s all there is to settle. NBA arenas are supposed to be nice and new and shiny, and Key Arena isn’t. Maybe they’ll get a new arena in Bellvue, maybe they’ll remodel Key Arena, maybe someone will build something totally new. Either way, if the Sonics are still in Seattle in three years, they won’t be playing where they play right now.

You wonder why a guy like Howard Schultz, who must have billions of coffee beans in the bank, would ever sell the Sonics? Check out this illustration, which runs through the complex litany of people who owned a piece of the Sonics. While Schultz had all the power, he was having to answer to other people, and I’m guessing if they were all losing money like Schultz claims they were, he really had to do something. He didn’t have to sell it to a group from Oklahoma City, but they showed up with the cash.

One thing that’s interesting that I haven’t seen get a lot of attention is that the deal Schultz signed with the Oklahoma City people requires them to make a “good faith” effort to keep the team in Seattle. Having watched way too much of the Hawks ownership fiasco, that seems like a possible loophole for Seattle fans. Maybe they go through the motions for a year and then say they’re moving the team to Oklahoma, and by then Schultz has another deal lined up to stay in Seattle, so he takes them to court. He better hire Steve Belkin‘s lawyers.

Hey, season tickets are still for sale in Seattle.

And t-shirts are already available in Oklahoma City.