City leaders prepare for NBA visit

Sunday, March 23rd 2008, 11:32 pm
By: News 9

By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

Oklahoma City leaders are making final preparations for Tuesday's visit from the NBA relocation committee.

In an exclusive interview, Mayor Mick Cornett said what happens on Tuesday could determine if Oklahoma City becomes a "big league city".

"This is what will go the furthest in determining whether or not Oklahoma City is getting the franchise currently in Seattle," Cornett said.

For that reason, the Mayor said he's a little anxious about Tuesday. NBA Commissioner David Stern and four members of the NBA relocation committee are expected to arrive in Oklahoma City.

"We have a full day planned for them," Cornett said. "We'll start with a  tour of the Ford Center, in which we'll be showing them the improvements we intend to make."

From there the group will go to the Skirvin Hotel for a day-long presentation.

"We will chronicle the two years of the Hornet's success in Oklahoma City," Cornett said. "We will show them the business model we envision for the team, and we'll talk about the future of Oklahoma City in general."

On Monday, city leaders will fine-tune the presentation. The Tuesday show-and-tell is the city's last chance to prove the city is ready for a pro-sports team, the mayor said.

"We have every reason to think we'll be successful, but you still have to execute," he said. "You still have to tell your story and you still have to convince the relocation committee that this is in the best interest of the NBA."

Following Tuesday's visit, the committee will go back to New York and in April they are scheduled to vote on the relocation request by Seattle to move to Oklahoma City. 

If all goes well with the vote in April, then all eyes will be on the June 16 court case in Washington that may determine when the Seattle franchise could make a move.  If they win the suit to break their lease in Seattle, it's possible the Sonics could be in Oklahoma by October, officials said.