Clay Bennett (businessman)
|Born||Clayton Ike Bennett
1959 (age 56–57)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
|Occupation||Chairman, Dorchester Capital
Chairman, Professional Basketball Club LLC
Louise Gaylord Ennis(m. 1981)
Clayton Ike Bennett (born 1959) is an American businessman and chairman of the Professional Basketball Club LLC, the ownership group of the Oklahoma City Thunder, an NBA franchise formerly known as the Seattle SuperSonics. Bennett is the chairman of Oklahoma City-based Dorchester Capital Corporation, as well as the chairman emeritus of the board of directors of the Oklahoma Heritage Association and a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma.
Early business career highlights
Bennett was one of the principal owners of the San Antonio Spurs in the mid-1990s, where one of his primary duties was to represent the team on the NBA Board of Governors. Immediately prior to the 2005–06 NBA season, Bennett, along with Aubrey McClendon of Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corporation, Tom L. Ward of Oklahoma City-based SandRidge Energy Corporation, and G. Jeffrey Records Jr. of Oklahoma City-based MidFirst Bank, partnered with the city of Oklahoma City and the state of Oklahoma in providing a revenue guarantee for the NBA's New Orleans Hornets. This resulted in the relocation of the Hornets to Oklahoma City for two seasons. The temporary relocation to Oklahoma City stemmed from damage to the arena and infrastructure in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina.
Ownership of the Oklahoma City Thunder
Bennett is the chairman of the Oklahoma City-based Professional Basketball Club LLC (PBC), which owns the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder. The team was purchased from Howard Schultz in 2006 for approximately $350 million on condition that Bennett would give a good-faith effort to keep the team in Seattle. At the time, the team was known as the Seattle SuperSonics. E-mails revealed that Bennett's group never intended to keep the team in Seattle and planned to move the team to Oklahoma City. After failing to get $500 million in public funding from local taxes to build a new suburban arena for the team, Bennett notified the NBA on November 2, 2007, of the ownership group's intent to move the team to Oklahoma City. On March 21, 2008, Bennett made known his plan that would relocate the basketball franchise without them retaining rights to the original team name, logo, colors, and history. On April 18, 2008, NBA owners gave approval for moving the franchise from Seattle for the 2008–2009 season pending the outcome of the city's case to uphold the lease and the former ownership group's lawsuit to rescind the purchase. On July 2, 2008, Bennett's ownership group reached a settlement agreement in the lawsuit filed by the city of Seattle, thus allowing the franchise to move from Seattle to Oklahoma City.
In April 2011, Bennett was named chairman of the NBA's relocation committee.
Bennett is married to Louise Gaylord Bennett, the daughter of Oklahoma City media mogul Edward L. Gaylord. Bennett and Louise Gaylord were high school sweethearts, meeting when he was a sophomore and she was a freshman. They have three children. Bennett's in-laws also have ties to professional sports ownership, as the Gaylords once owned a minority share of the Texas Rangers—a share which was later sold to future Republican President George W. Bush. Bennett is also a Republican.
- "Unwanted attention: The man who will take over the SuperSonics franchise reluctantly puts himself in the spotlight". The News Tribune. Archived from the original on August 2, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-25.
- "The University of Oklahoma – Board of Regents". OU.edu. University of Oklahoma. June 18, 2013. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
- "Bennett added to OU board". okcfriday.com. Nichols Hills Publishing. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
- Jim Brunner (April 17, 2008). "E-mails reveal Sonics owners intended to bolt from Seattle". The Seattle Times. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
- Percy Allen (April 23, 2008). "Howard Schultz suit adds fuel to e-mail fire". The Seattle Times. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
- Jim Brunner (April 25, 2008). "Sonics e-mail hints at NBA's concern over breach of promise". The Seattle Times. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
- "Sonics present plans for new arena". seattlepi.com. 2007-01-19. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
- "Sonics tell NBA of intent to move SuperSonics to Oklahoma City". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2008-03-25.
- "Bennett: Seattle arena costs projected around $500 million". The Oklahoman. Retrieved 2008-04-20.
- Allen, Percy (2007-05-20). "An interview with Clay Bennett, owner of Sonics". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
- "Sonics owners willing to leave behind team name if franchise moves". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on 2008-07-12. Retrieved 2008-03-25.
- "NBA owners approve Sonics' move, pending litigation". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
- "Sonics, city reach settlement". The Seattle Times. 2008-07-02. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- "Howard Schultz plans to sue Clay Bennett to get Sonics back". seattletimes.nwsource.com. 2008-04-15. Retrieved 2012-02-11.
- Tom Ziller (2011-04-15). "NBA Relocation Committee Considering Sacramento Kings' Anaheim Move Filled With Small Market Owners". SBNation.com. Retrieved 2011-04-16.
During this week's owners meetings in New York City, the Board of Governors made Bennett the committee's chairman.
- "NBA committee recommends rejecting Kings move". Sports Illustrated. Time Inc. April 30, 2013. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
- "Sonics' owner hopes to have arena plan by year's end". CBSSports.com. Retrieved 2008-03-25.
- "State of Oklahoma v. Clayton Ike Bennett". OSCN.net. Retrieved 2008-03-25.
- Where the Thunder Comes Dribbling Down the Plain, New York Times, October 25, 2008