Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Howard Schultz Sues Bennett--Wants Sonics Back

Seattle's Professional Sports teams sadly have one thing in common. No I'm not talking about their endless ability to not live up to expectations, it's that all have been on the brink of leaving town. The earliest team in my memory (actually Seattle's second major team), The Seattle Pilots skipped town after a year, becoming the Milwaukee Brewers. The subsequent lawsuit, brought about a new baseball team in 1977, the Seattle Mariners. The bitten Seattle fans were reluctant to support the baseball team more or less forced upon them, until sports radio and a likable group of stars and potential stars who seemed gel at just the right time to capture the hearts of the fans and cause Safeco Field to be built. Even the Seahawks were bought by out of town owners and put out to die, actually setting foot in what was to be there new town. Until software billionaire Paul Allen stepped up and bought the team after persuading the town to build Qwest Field.
The Sonics seemed to be safe, after all, the 1990s which were rough times for the 'Hawks and Mariners (although the Mariners saw their first post season action in '95), saw some of the better Sonics teams. When Howard Schultz bought the team several years ago, he assembled some of the best and the brightest in the area business world and the future for the team looked good in Seattle. Until July 18, 1996 when the Sonics were sold to a group from Oklahoma City. While the owners, lead by Clay Bennett, promised to put forth a "good faith effort" to keep the team in Seattle, Sonic fans where aware the city warmly greeted the New Orleans Hornets while Hurricane Katrina caused the team to temporarily relocate.
Now once again the city is suing to keep a franchise and suddenly Howard Schultz has is suing to take back the franchise. The lawsuit is in response to e-mails Bennett made to his partners insisting that he meant all along to move the franchise. Whether or not Schultz will be successful remains to be seen but after the beating that he has taken after his first go around owning a team, it is amazing that he would want anything to do with the franchise.

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