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There is No Quit in Sonics Fans


The Seattle PI reported last week that a group of former season ticket holders of the Seattle Sonics are going to continue their lawsuit against the Oklahoma City ownership group that moved the NBA team from Seattle to Oklahoma City this season.

Three Sonics fans are suing in U.S. District court and are seeking to obtain a class action certification to include all season ticket holders from last season.  The fans amended their complaint this week to allow the fans to obtain priority seating at Oklahoma City Thunder games for next season at the same prices they were guaranteed in Seattle.  This would end up displacing Oklahoma City fans who have already purchased season tiecktes for this season and may wan to renew their seats.  The suit also states that Clay Bennett, Oklahoma City Chairman of the Professional Basketball Club which owns the Thunder, must also pay attorneys fees and damages.  The suit originally required Bennett’s group to pay for flights to Oklahoma City for former sonics fans, but that request was wisely dropped as that request makes the suit even more rediculous than it already is.

Requests for summary judgement have been filed by the PBC and a judge will rule on the motion shortly.  The fans are basing their claims on breach of contract theory and a breach of the Washington Consumer Protection Act (WCP).  I am not familiar with the WCP, but I can give some insight into general contract law as best I can without actually looking at the contract entered into by the parties.

In order for a contract to be formed there must be an offer, acceptance, and consideration.  The issue here is whether or not a proper offer was made.  One of the elements of an offer is that the offer must be definate.  This means that the material terms and parties to the contract must be stated in the contract.  A main term would be where the team was going to play its home games. The fans most likely signed a contract which stated home games were going to play in Seattle, but that is unknown.  Therefore for there to be a contract the Sonics must have most likely played in Seattle and at Key Arena this season.

In addition the PBC will argue that they revoked their offer of providing season tickets when the team moved to Oklahoma City, before any renewal or acceptance was made by Sonics fans.  The fans were on notice and most likely informed by letters that the team was not going to play in Seattle, resulting in a proper revocation.  Furthermore I am almost certain that most sporting event tickets state that the tickets may be revoked for any reason, and the team has the right to sell to whomever they wish.

What makes this claim near impossible to win is the fact that damages must also be proven in a breach of contract claim.  In this situation the Sonics fans have not suffered any financial damages since they only paid for tickets through last season.  With no financial damages I don’t to see how this claim can move forward against PBC.

As a loyal Sonics fan I do not understand the rational of the season ticket holders bringing a lawsuit.  Are they really going to travel all the way to Oklahoma City to watch the worst team in the NBA, a team that has already been boo’d off the court in Oklahoma City?  It would be great to see the team move away from Oklahoma City in the next few years and show what a blunder David Stern made in his judgement and moving away from Seattle, a great NBA city.  Sonics fans need to be patient and hope the Washington state legislature steps up and provides funding for renovating Key Arena.  If they do, the Sonics will likely be back in action in five years with the backing of Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer as owner.


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Richard J. Symmes, Esq
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