The Oklahoma City Council has approved a letter of intent submitted by the owner of the Seattle SuperSonics that will be the basis of a lease agreement if the National Basketball Association team moves to the city.
Councilor members agreed to complete upgrades to the city-owned Ford Center and build a basketball practice facility for the budgeted price of $121 million. The team agreed to pay an annual lease of $1.6 million for 15 years, and to pay the city the $409,000 a year that it currently receives for the naming rights.
The letter of intent gives the SuperSonics the right to rename the arena and keep revenue in excess of the city’s fee. The naming rights are expected to bring approximately $50 million.
SuperSonics’ owner and Oklahoma City resident Clay Bennett said he is committed to bringing the team to Oklahoma but must adhere to the team’s lease with Seattle. The SuperSonics are contractually bound to Seattle’s Key Arena through 2010 but the team is in court seeking to overturn the pact.
The NBA board of governors will meet on April 17 to consider the team’s request to relocate.
Oklahoma City is financing the arena upgrades and practice facility with a 1% sales tax that was extended for 15 months by voters in early March.