Despite a groundswell of support in Oklahoma and deal after deal offered by the city of Seattle, Sonics owners announced Thursday that they have just finalized a deal to move the team to Tacoma.
The announcement came as a shock to Seattle leaders who, since the team’s sale to Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett in 2006, had offered an unending stream of dismal, inadequate plans to keep the Sonics from leaving. Marty McOmber, a spokesman for Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, was quick to respond to the news, stating in a press conference that “we still believe that we can come up with a viable plan.”
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett was also stunned by the news, explaining that it was much easier to build local support to steal an NBA team from “a bunch of stuck-up, latte-swilling yuppies” than from “an inspirational city that has worked its way back from the obliteration wrought by Hurricane Katrina.” Cornett explained his disappointment at Oklahoma City’s only remaining option. “Now that the Sonics are off the table, I just don’t know if the citizens of Oklahoma City can get behind a plan to deprive the people of New Orleans of the long history of rich basketball tradition that they have in the Hornets.”
Sonics ownership and the NBA Board of Governors made the announcement in a press release, which explained that the Sonics will make the Tacoma Dome their new home after serving the remainder of their sentence in Seattle’s dilapidated Key Arena through the fall of 2010.
“When we bought the team, we knew right away that the drug-infested slum of Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood was no place for a successful franchise like the Sonics,” stated Bennett. “After all the trouble we’ve been through with the city of Seattle, we realized that the perfect solution was right under our nose the whole time.” He pointed out Tacoma’s world-class rail system and vibrant downtown atmosphere as justifications for the team’s choice. “I also understand that it doesn’t smell half as bad as it used to down there,” he expounded.
Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma welcomed the news. “In your face, Seattle,” he exclaimed. “In. Your. Face.”
Reactions from fans were mixed. Steven Pyeatt, co-founder of the fan group Save our Sonics said that the announcement gave their group a bitter-sweet feeling. “I’m glad I’ll still be able to go to games,” Pyeatt said, “but on the other hand… Tacoma.” Pyeatt was uncertain whether he would rather have followed the team to the barren, life-sucking plains of Oklahoma, or endure over forty yearly trips to Seattle’s southern neighbor. “It really is a tough call,” he explained.
Mayor Nickels’ office seemed to be taking the news hardest. McOmber’s tone at the press conference was primarily one of denial. “Seattle has a lot to offer the Sonics,” he explained. “Please don’t leave. You’re not really leaving us, are you? Seriously, for Tacoma?”