This week, the Associated Press has a story about City of Seattle v. Professional Basketball Club LLC, the lawsuit about the final two years of the lease between the city and the SuperSonics at Seattle’s KeyArena. The Sonics gained the NBA’s approval to move the team to Oklahoma City, the hometown of team owner Clay Bennett, largely based on economic considerations. The City of Seattle argues that the lease forces the franchise to play two more seasons before departing.
The Sonics are represented by 53 year old Brad Keller, who graduated magna cum laude from Brooklyn Law School with the Class of 1979. Keller is the managing partner of Byrnes & Keller LLP in Seattle, Washington. The case has been pending in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington since October 2007 when Keller successfully removed the case from the state courts to the federal court. The six-day, no-jury trial before U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman is expected to conclude this week.
The Sonics’ argument that it can terminate its lease early because they are losing money at Key Area, if successful, could set a precedent with broad implications in the sports world. If the court permits early termination, it could impact the willingness of taxpayers to authorize public funding of new stadiums.