OKC prepares for NBA official's tour

Tuesday, March 18th 2008, 12:26 pm
By: News 9

By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

Just days after getting a letter of intent to relocate the Seattle Sonics to Oklahoma City, city leaders are getting ready to welcome NBA officials to the metro with hopes of sealing the deal.

Preparations are already in the works at the Ford Center for a visit by the relocation committee looking to see if the arena is ready for the Sonics.

They'll have about two hours to show the area to NBA Commissioner David Stern and at least four owners. Ford Center General Manager Gary Desjardins will outline upgrades to Ford Center already in the works.

"New entry, new lobby, additional food and beverage amenities,  and food and beverage offerings, the roof gardens," Desjardins said.

It appears Oklahoma City is on the fast track to landing the Sonics. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said the city council is now going over the lease agreement with the team.

"It's basically the terms of the lease," Cornett said. "We thought it would be better if we got it in front of as many people as possible and so people have a chance to check in."

On March 25, the council will vote on the lease agreement and the relocation committee will tour.

"We want to convince both the ownership group that's going to be in town as well as the executives of the NBA that Oklahoma City is truly a big league city in terms that we cannot only support an NBA team but we can make an NBA team very viable in this market place," said Roy Williams of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.

On April 17 and 18, the NBA board of governors will meet in New York City to vote on whether the Sonics will be allowed to move.

On June 16, a court case goes to trial to see if the Sonics can break their lease agreement in Seattle.

If they win, it's possible the Sonics could be here by October.

The city will also use its history with the Hornets to make the case next week.

The relocation committee will arrive next Tuesday morning, and leave out late afternoon.

 Wanda Jo Stapleton's letter to the Seattle Times.