Decision set for Wednesday in Sonics trial

Jul 2, 2008 - 1:31 PM SEATTLE (Ticker) -- The immediate future of the Seattle SuperSonics will be decided when the trial between the team and its long-time city comes to a close Wednesday.

Calling the Pacific Northwest their home for over 30 years, the Sonics' whereabouts next season will be determined by Judge Marsha Pechman, who will post her decision on the court's web site.

It has been a very public trial between the city of Seattle and the SuperSonics, whose future most likely will come down to Pechman's interpretation of the team's agreement with the city, which has been the main point of contention throughout the six-day trial.

Seattle is seeking to hold the owners of the Sonics to the remaining two years of the team's KeyArena lease.

As such, lawyers for the city obtained e-mails that show majority owner Clay Bennett and his ownership group may not have been honest about their plans to keep the Sonics in Seattle.

Season ticket holders also have filed a class action lawsuit that contends they were tricked into buying tickets under the belief that the Sonics would be staying in the Pacific Northwest.

The Sonics have alleged that they are losing money at KeyArena, thereby necessitating a likely move to Oklahoma City, Bennett's hometown.

If the team does move, it would be the first NBA franchise to relocate since the Hornets left Charlotte for New Orleans in 2002. Ironically, the Hornets also spent parts of two seasons in Oklahoma City in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

That short stint provided evidence that Oklahoma City was a competent basketball market with an enthusiastic fan base, prompting Bennett's exuberance about the move.

But if the Sonics were to leave Seattle, they would be leaving more behind than just familiar surroundings.

The 1979 NBA champions, the Sonics have left a rich history in Seattle, again appearing in the Finals in 1996 behind Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp.

Their departure also would be a blow to the NBA, which would abandon Seattle's lucrative market for the relative obscurity of the Southwest.

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