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State Balks On Last Minute Sonics Deal

SEATTLE (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Oklahoma City came a step closer to being the home city for NBA franchise team The Seattle Supersonics after Washington lawmakers balked at approving $75 million in public funding for Seattle's Key Arena.

The attempt at a last minute deal was brokered by a coalition of private investors led by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer which would provide $150 million of the estimated $300 million required by the renovation plan provided that the city and state would agree to come up with $75 million each to make up the shortfall the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.

The city was on board but state lawmakers appear unlikely to vote on the measure before the session ends on Thursday, effectively a no vote on the issue.

The investor coalition — which includes Costco CEO Jim Sinegal, Seattle developer Matt Griffin and former Sonics owner and wireless mogul John Stanton — isn't taking this setback lying down. They have sent a letter to Washington Governor Chris Gregoire in an attempt to pressure lawmakers to act before the NBA Board of Governors meet to consider the Sonics' application to move to Oklahoma.

"We are therefore hopeful that you and the legislative leadership will commit to acting on the City's proposed legislation to implement this plan during the current legislative session or during a short special session well before April 10" the later states, "If this is not possible, we will need to go back to our other responsibilities and our offer will expire."

Any real consideration of the Supersonics staying in Washington would likely need the team's Oklahoma-based ownership to change in order to be viable and Balmer's coalition has signaled that they are willing to discuss buying the team. However, chairman of the Sonic's ownership group has repeatedly stated that the franchise is not currently for sale. It remains to be seen if this is a bargaining position but it is increasingly likely that it is not.

KeyArena at Seattle Center is a venerable structure, initially constructed in 1962 and most recently renovated in 1994. The current plans for modernizing the arena would nearly double the size of the facility and add a new practice court as well as an array of shops and restaurants. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers