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http://www.thenewstribune.com/sports/story/66140.html

Sabey makes bid for Sonics
Developer offers to buy team, or get a stake with 55-acre parcel

FRANK HUGHES; The News Tribune
Published: May 19th, 2007 01:00 AM

Seattle SuperSonics chairman Clay Bennett has been offered the opportunity to sell the team to local real estate developer David Sabey, according to three sources, but for now has rejected the proposal.

Also, Seattle Storm chief operating officer Karen Bryant three months ago broached the topic of purchasing the WNBA team from Bennett, according to sources, but was rebuffed because Bennett thinks he has more leverage with both entities together.

Sabey was part of Howard Schultz’s ownership group, which sold the Sonics and Storm to Bennett last July for $350 million.

Sabey recently purchased 55 acres of land at the south end of Boeing Field for $91 million that, sources say, he wants to use as a site for a new arena.

Five phone calls were placed to Sabey by The News Tribune this week, and his assistant said he was choosing not to return those calls.

Bennett has not spoken to the media since April 17 and did not return a phone call Friday night.

Sonics spokesman Tom Savage said the team had no comment.

According to sources, Sabey had a two-hour meeting with Bennett around April 18, at which he broached the topic of offering the 55 acres for an ownership stake in the team.

When Bennett rejected that offer, Sabey countered with buying the team outright, which so far has not been accepted. It is unclear how much Sabey offered for the team.

Sabey, however, is hoping that the state Legislature’s rejection of Bennett’s request for $300 million in public funds as part of a plan for a new arena, as well as the prospect of losing more than $20 million next season, is enough to convince Bennett to alter his plans. Bennett, who also has paid an estimated $10 million toward his pursuit of a new arena, would have to pay at least an additional $75 million for relocation fees to break his lease with KeyArena.

Sabey, sources say, would like to use a new arena as the centerpiece in developing the 55-acre site. The site in Renton that Bennett’s group had chosen for an arena is 21 acres, meaning Sabey potentially would have another 34 acres on which to build hotels, restaurants and other retail shops.

That land currently is leased to Associated Grocers, which sold the land to Sabey in April.

But that lease runs out in two years, sooner if AG can find a cheaper alternative.

Sabey also is being financially backed by Greg Maffei, another member of Schultz’s ownership group who is CEO and president of Liberty Media Corp.

Liberty, which on Thursday purchased the Atlanta Braves from Time Warner, owns a portion of Fox Sports Net, which has a 10-year, $100 million contract with the Sonics.

If the Sonics leave Seattle, which Bennett has threatened, FSN would lose one of its primary assets, which provides 75 nights of broadcast opportunities a year, as well as supporting shows.

FSN vice president and general manager Mark Shuken did not return a phone call.

Meanwhile, it appears that Bennett has at least temporarily stopped his pursuit of a new arena and may be waiting to see what draft pick the Sonics acquire in Tuesday’s draft lottery before making any decision on the future.

Bennett, sources say, is apparently intent on cutting ties with Jim Kneeland of Pacific Public Affairs, the firm hired by Bennett to help him in his pursuit of a public subsidy from the Legislature.

Kneeland, reached earlier this week, said his company’s contract with Bennett has not been terminated but acknowledged that he has not had contact with Bennett in several weeks.

“I wish I was more involved,” Kneeland said, “but right now I’m not.”

Sabey, incidentally, is also a client of Kneeland’s.

Meanwhile, in the wake of Feb. 26 revelations that two of Bennett’s partners, Tom Ward and Aubrey McClendon, bankrolled an anti-gay marriage group in 2004 with $1.1 million, Bryant made a pitch to Bennett to purchase the Storm.

According to sources, Bryant, the team’s former general manager who was re-assigned within the organization when Anne Donovan was given total control, suggested that the team’s large lesbian fan base may make it uncomfortable for him as an owner if he kept the team. Bryant wants to keep the Storm in Seattle.

Bennett rejected Bryant’s offer, sources say, because, while he may not want to relocate the Storm, he felt at the time it gave him more leverage with the Legislature.

“Did we have the conversation (regarding his intention for the team)? Yeah. But it was very early on and he said he had every intention of keeping the franchises together,” Bryant said.

Jack Rodgers, also a member of Schultz’s ownership group and one of the early investors in Starbucks, said he has spoken to Bryant in the past about being part of a group to purchase the Storm if Bennett wants to sell.

Rodgers is retired but was very involved with the Storm when Schultz’s group still owned the organization.

“I was curious if she knew if there were prospects for buying the team if ownership failed to get a venue,” Rodgers said.

Sabey, who grew up in Burien and attended the University of Washington, is the president and CEO of Sabey Corp., which is worth, according to one report, $400 million.

He once attempted to purchase the Seattle Mariners but was rebuffed and also, sources say, was involved with Bennett’s attempt to bring a hockey team to Seattle.
 

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I'm half interested in this, mostly because if there's no replacement for Key Arena, the chances of luring an NHL franchise here are basically nill. But then again, I could give a crap about basketball
 

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Would make for a much better place to watch basketball than OK city. Don't see it playing out that way though unless the NBA has a change a heart and decides they don't want to see teams being leveraged for huge arena deals, yeah right. Why didn't these people show up before the team was sold to Bennett? Would have saved fans of the Sonics a whole lot of heart burn.
 

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It would be great to have locals buy the team and make it work with a much smaller subsidy.

Hockey I don't know about. There's never been a major push for a pro team.
 

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I can't imagine Bennett buying the team to turn them around this quickly, unless, he gets an offer he can't refuse. Perhaps he will unload if all the other options look uncertain. But there are lot of options for Bennett right now...Vegas, KC, OKC, etc. I hope he will make the right move for Seattle, but realistically not sure this is anything to get too excited about.
 

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F&N

Isn't this the Sabey who bought Fredrick & Nelson and ran it into the ground? I still bemoan the loss of that great department store!
 

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Crazy, from reading your posts, I know your history with Seattle doesn't go back so far. Frederick and Nelson was THE Seattle department store. It's reputation was great, they provided the best Christmas decorations, and was THE place to see Santa. But, more importantly, they were the store that provided quality merchandise at reasonable (not cheap) prices. It was purely a middle to upper-middle class store, but that is pretty much what Seattle was back in the day. They expanded to malls before they were sold, but the downtown store (now Nordstrom) was the flagship. A different era for sure.
 

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^^ Yeah I have been hearing about that store from some of my friends around here who lives here much longer than I do. It sounds like really nice store... Too bad its closed way before I came to Seattle (over two years ago). :(
 

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Frederick&Nelson's was also where Frangos came from. Bon Marché acquired them, then Macy's.

Anyway: I agree with Boulder in that I don't care about basketball at all. I don't like the sort of attention and culture that it attracts. However, if a new arena would be good for hockey, then I might be for it.
 

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If it ever happens, that means they might make Boeing Field station addition for sure. Notice how the tracks are straight that crosses the train tracks and how it's designed? That's pre-construction design to add a new station at a existing elevated tracks. I imagine a 2nd transfer station for Sounder and Amtrak? Sorry, just specalating. :) maybe Georgetown and the surrounding areas will become busier than usual?
 

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Wow, someone dug up an old thread here, for sure.

Not to be too modest here, but I see an old post of mine that certainly came to be true. This Sabey thing was far-fetched then, as it turned out to be.

The only hope for the NBA in Seattle now is to attract a faltering team from another market. Still possible, but the stadium needs to be the cart before the horse.
 

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I don't think the Boeing Access Road station will ever happen. Sure it would allow a transfer to Sounder, but what would the purpose of that be? The only thing I can think of is if you're commuting from SE King County to the Rainier Valley, which is a very uncommon commute. And there's pretty much 0 opportunity for TOD there, and it's not at all convenient to anything at Boeing.
 

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I don't think the Boeing Access Road station will ever happen. Sure it would allow a transfer to Sounder, but what would the purpose of that be? The only thing I can think of is if you're commuting from SE King County to the Rainier Valley, which is a very uncommon commute. And there's pretty much 0 opportunity for TOD there, and it's not at all convenient to anything at Boeing.
It would also allow the transfer for LInk to Sea-Tac airport.

Beyond that, the Associated Grocers warehouse site was purchased with the idea of redevelopment for commercial purposes. This may provide more workers/transit trips in the future. I don't see this in the next 10 years, however.
 

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So this thread popped up again because of Spam? Until something actually comes along, why are we talking about it again>?
 
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