Future of Sonics in Seattle rests with judge's ruling


Monday, June 23rd 2008, 7:37 pm
By: News 9


By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

According to NEWS 9's legal team, there are three possible outcomes to the Sonic's trial.

Federal Judge Marsha Pechman, who's ruling in the legal battle over the Sonic's, was described by friends as mostly disinterested in professional sports. Pechman has heard evidence that the Sonics owners understood when they signed the lease two years ago, that it involved risk, that it did not contain any buyout clauses, but that it did include specific performance clause.

So, in one outcome, Judge Pechman could rule that specific performance can be enforced and that the Sonics have to play out the lease in Seattle.

Seattle Sonics fans wholeheartedly support their city's effort to sue Clay Bennett and his Oklahoma City ownership.

In one outcome, Judge Pechman could rule that specific performance can be enforced and that the Sonics have to play out the lease in Seattle. If Pechman rules in favor of that possibility, the trial will be over.

"I think Seattle starts selling season tickets that day in Seattle for the rest of the games for the rest of the two years, I seriously doubt, based upon the appeal time, that the Sonics would appeal that decision," NEWS 9 legal analyst Irven Box said.

The Sonics claim if the judge forces them to stay, the decision would cause them to lose far more money than they could have anticipated, and that Seattle officials are pursuing this lawsuit, in large part, to increase their losses. They contend the benefits the team brings to Seattle can be quantified, and the city can be made whole by a monetary payment.

Pechman could rule specific performance should not be enforced and that the Sonics can buy out the lease, paying the city an amount to be determined either through a jury trial or arbitration.

"She could say try to work it out, this is going to be costly to both sides, another jury trial's going to be costly, it's going to be down the road some, try to work it out to save money for both the Sonics and the city of Seattle," Box said.

The third possibility would be a settlement.

The trial will resume Thursday. Seattle will interview their last witness, closing arguments will be made and Judge Pechman will announce when she will make her ruling.