The Sonics will pay up to $75 million to the City of Seattle to buy out the remainder of its KeyArena lease and move to Oklahoma City under a settlement reached today.
In addition, the NBA is open to bringing another team to Seattle if politicians and perspective local owners can work out an arena deal.
The deal allows the Sonics, the oldest professional sports franchise in the Emerald City, to begin moving Thursday - two years before the team's lease expires. The settlement was announced just hours before U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman was to rule on the city's lawsuit that sought to hold the team to the lease. The judge, who presided over a six-day trial that ended last week, issued an order dismissing the lawsuit in lieu of the settlement.
“We made it,” Sonics owner Clay Bennett said after stepping to an Oklahoma City podium featuring the NBA logo and the letters OKC. “The NBA will be in Oklahoma City next season."
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