SEATTLE Clay Bennett and his fellow owners of the former Seattle SuperSonics ripped the hearts out of many basketball fans when they moved the team to Oklahoma City in 2008.
Adding insult to injury, Bennett may win again at midnight on Jan. 1 - to the tune of $30 million that could have gone to the city of Seattle.
As part of the settlement reached 18 months ago between the Sonics ownership and the city, Bennett would have had to pay the city $30 million if the Legislature had passed a plan this year to use future tax money to help renovate KeyArena and if Seattle was not given a new team within five years.
The first part of that equation didn't happen. Senate bill 6116 was supposed to do just that, among other things. But the bill never made it out of committee this year.
He wrote up that deal never expecting to have to pay a dime of it. Bennett knew our elected officials better than we did. He knew they were going to fritter that away and they did, said Steve Pyeatt of the group Save our Sonics.
The city took the Sonics ownership to federal court in June 2008 as the team attempted to nix the final two years of its lease at KeyArena.
The city accused the ownership of not negotiating 'in good faith' on a new arena as they had promised, The cityprovided e-mail evidence that Bennett and his fellow owners were talking about moving the team just a couple of months after buying it from Starbucks mogul Howard Schultz.
The team, in turn, accused the city and a potential new ownership group of creating a poisoned well by trying to make it too expensive for the team to leave.
Just hours before Judge Marsha Pechman was to give her ruling, the city announced the settlement - $45 million up front from the Bennett group with another $30 million possible pending the agreement about renovating KeyArena.
Fans say they'd rather have a new team, not the money. Still, there'sthe principle.
It's kind of like a kid stealing your bike and riding it in front of your house every single day. After a while, you want put a rock in his ear, said Pyeatt.