Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Shultz to Sue Bennet on Behalf of Seattle

I know, this is supposed to be a Grizzlies blog but give me time and I will get around to a way this is about the Grizzlies.

Clay Bennet could be sued any day now by Howard Shultz.

So what you ask?

Well Howard Shultz used to own the Seattle Sonics before selling them to the Bennett and his group from Oklahoma City on the belief that the team would remain in Seattle. Since Bennett has announced he was moving the team, and e-mails have emerged suggesting that was always the plan, Shultz is suing to rescind the trade.

The financial damages have to be hard to determine but the end result is this, according to Shultz's attorney:

The damages that are being sought is to rescind, unwind the transaction. It's not money damage. It's to have the team returned. The theory of the suit is that when the team was sold, the Basketball Club of Seattle, our team here, relied on promises made by Clay Bennett and his ownership that they desired to keep the team in Seattle and intended to make a good-faith effort to accomplish that."

The Seattle argument is breach of contract. The e-mails make it apparent that it was never the intention of the Oklahoma City ownership group to keep the team in Seattle. Now Bennett has already sold the Seattle Storm, the WNBA team in Seattle, to local business women so that part of the deal has been maintained but isn't the Sonics are the real meat of matter?

Which brings us back to the Grizzlies. Micheal Heisley has stated that he would not have moved the Grizzlies if the team could be successful in Vancouver but it didn't take him long to determine that was not going to be feasible. Less than one year to be exact. Now Clay Bennett is saying that the team can't be successful in Seattle and that they have to move to be financially viable. However, unlike Mr. Heisley, there appears to be a clear statement that the owners never meant for the team to remain in Seattle regardless of the city or state building a new arena. I don't know how this is going to wind up but I find the similiarities eerie.

Let me say that I completely believe Mr. Heisley and his financial reasons for moving the team. I am not implying that he bought the team with the express intent of moving the Grizzlies as it now appears obvious Mr. Bennett did. It is just that there are a lot of interesting parallels between the two franchises and their proposed move. New owners, financially strapped teams in poor NBA arenas, declining fan bases and the subsequent moves being planned. If course the save the NBA program failed miserably in Vancouver and the Grizzlies didn't have a promising player like Kevin Durant on their team at the time so there are some serious differences as well.

I wonder if that is why Heisley has stopped responding to e-mails?

Related Stories:
Editorial from the CA
Sonics Not Accepting Renewals

BallHype: hype it up!


Chris said...

So are you acting as apologist for Heisley moving the team from Vancouver or somehow applying this to the stability of the franchise staying in Memphis? I don't get the point of this post- it feels unfinished.

Anonymous said...

its a blog, not an essay for 8th grade english...it is what it is...eerily similar.

ChipC3 said...

I am definately not apologizing for Heisley's move but he did explain that season ticket sales were dropping off the cliff in Vancouver. Seattle has traditionally supported their team far better than Vancouver did.

It is simply very weird the correlations that can be made between the franchises. It is also very weird that the former owner is attempting to void the sale because the new owner wants to move the team.

I wonder what would happen with the Seattle Storm sale if the courts agree to the petition?

Anonymous said...

While it isn't known if Heisley's intention to move the team from Vancouver existed before the acqusition, it appeared he sabotaged the finances of the team by inflating losses so that he could present his request to the league to move.

Anonymous said...

The situation in Vancouver was very underreported and even then, misrepresented by the American media IMO. Heisley did little to try and keep the Grizzlies and even before that, there were rumblings for a good year of people trying to move the team. His numbers seemed cooked, and he blamed fans despite the complete mismanagement of the team. Remember, there was no Kevin Durant, Ray Allen, Gary Payton or Pau Gasol when talking about Vancouver. There was Mike Bibby, Shareef and Otis Thorpe...

I do find your comment about arenas interesting though. I have never been aware of any complaints about GM Place. The Canucks seem to have no problem fitting 18,000+ in there. How was the arena at fault? As far as I am aware it was never an issue.

ChipC3 said...

According to Heisley the arena didn't have luxury suites or at least not enough and he had a bad lease that prohibited him being able to do the things he can do in Memphis to raise revenues.

If you read the interview with Heisley he explains the arena situation and answers the critics about the financial situation as well.

Anonymous said...

Heisley is full of shit, he's a terrible owner. He wanted to move the team from the first second he bought it. We were in the top 2/3s of the league in attendance with a team that was the worst in the NBA for 5 years straight. Are you saying that any other city would support a franchise more than that with that kind of record? He wanted to move for the American dollar, not for lack of support and right after he left the cdn dollar went way up. He'd be making more money in Vancouver now than in Memphis. The Grizzlies problem is and always has been Management and bad drafting. Even when they do somehow get a draft right they'll trade that player away 2 or 3 years later for nothing.

With Heisley as an owner you'll never win. Before Heisley bought the team there was a deal in place to sell to Bill Laurie who said in a year he would move the team to St. Louis. At least he was honest about moving but the NBA nixed that deal because they didn't want the team to move. Then comes Heisley to save the day... and he moves the team exactly one year later. He's a snake.