SuperSonics: Up in the Air

Also: Waterfront-tunnel opposition, a new job for Paul Berendt, and a new NYT scribe is coming.

Sports

Despite rumors that KeyArena talks with the city were going warmly, the Seattle SuperSonics and Storm (see "Storm Troupers") are being sold to an Oklahoma City–based ownership group for $350 million, it was announced Tuesday, July 18. Said lead seller Howard Schultz: "It became more apparent that a new ownership group may be more successful in achieving the remaining goals of the Sonics and Storm." The new owners say they want to keep the Sonics in Seattle—assuming, of course, a better venue can be had. But it so happens that the New Orleans Hornets have been temporarily playing home games at Ford Arena in OK City since Katrina hit. And Oklahoma has been lauded by the NBA for embracing the Hornets and packing seats, while Commissioner David Stern has made no bones about his distaste for Seattle's ambivalent attitude toward the Supes. Anyone who thinks a group of Sooner investors is going to entertain keeping the team in Seattle is delusional. It will be interesting to see what sort of impact this has on public opinion of Schultz and Mayor Greg Nickels, both of whom will be held accountable for the team's likely departure. MIKE SEELY

Transportation

On Thursday, July 27, opponents of Mayor Greg Nickels' favored replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct—a cut-and-cover tunnel along the waterfront—will hold a 7 p.m. public meeting to "develop a common strategy regardless of what other viaduct solutions/alternatives you may prefer or not prefer." The meeting will be held at University Baptist Church and is being sponsored by the likes of City Council member David Della (who favors a rebuild), Sane Transit gadfly Emory Bundy, Ballard Oil owner Warren Aakervik, and former City Council member Charlie Chong. In a press release, Magnolia resident and organizer Gene Hoglund is touting Nickels' plan as the "the Mayor's big dig," which is probably a savvy—if a little morbid—strategy in light of last week's death by ceiling tile of a Boston motorist in a section of that city's Interstate 90 "Big Dig" tunnel. MIKE SEELY

State Politics

Bumped into former Scoop Jackson–Maria Cantwell–Booth Gardner campaign chief/Snohomish County quarter-horse aficionado Ron Dotzauer in Belltown. Dressed stunningly in a white cowboy hat, dress shirt, and boots, Dotz was picking up his dry cleaning. We discussed the state of his Westlake public affairs consultancy, Strategies 360 (formerly Northwest Strategies), whose roster of talent includes the aforementioned ex-Gov. Gardner. He then mentioned his firm's most recent hire: ex–State Democratic Party Chair Paul Berendt, before slamming Mike (!) McGavick as "a wolf in sheep's clothing" and driving off in a dark-colored hybrid automobile. MIKE SEELY

Media

Seattle is about to get a new New York Times correspondent. William "Bill" Yardley is expected to arrive this summer to replace Sarah Kershaw, whose last NYT piece on Seattle (about the Wonder Bread sign) was in March. Yardley will have big shoes to fill: Previous correspondents have included Sam Howe Verhovek (now a Seattle-based Los Angeles Times correspondent) and Timothy Egan, who is a Seattle-based national correspondent for the paper. Yardley has most recently been covering Connecticut, including Joe Lieberman's political woes. KNUTE BERGER

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