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Kingdome or Tacoma Dome interim home for Sonics?

SEATTLE -- Talks between the Seattle SuperSonics and the city about construction of a new arena continue, while team and NBA officials consider the Kingdome and Tacoma Dome as possible interim sites.

Sonics President Bob Whitsitt has said the team will not play in Seattle Center Coliseum next season, which has led the club to look for an alternate site until a permanent new building can be erected or found elsewhere.

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The Sonics have received proposals to relocate to another state. Officials in Toronto, Memphis, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Mo., San Diego and Anaheim, Calif., have expressed interest in obtaining the Sonics.

Club officials and Rod Thorne, NBA vice president, inspected the Kingdome and Tacoma Dome, about 30 miles south of Seattle, Wednesday as possible interim homes for the team.

Thorne could not be reached for comment.

The Sonics had hoped to build an arena next to the Kingdome by next year, but the plan was rejected by King County because of complaints from the Seattle Mariners of the American League and other Kingdome tenants about inadequate parking sites.

But new Mariners owner Jeff Smulyan, who purchased the team from George Argyros during the off-season, is in favor of a new arena near the Kingdome in Seattle's Pioneer Square district, provided enough parking space is available.

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'We have talked to the Sonics in the past and told them we would not oppose an arena near the Kingdome as long as the proposal deals with with a solution to the parking problems in the region,' Smulyan said. 'We are of the belief that the Pioneer Square area is the place where sports should be held.'

In addition to the Mariners, the NFL's Seattle Seahawks also play home games at the Kingdome.

The Sonics have said they want to leave the coliseum, built for the 1962 World's Fair, because the building's roof leaks, inadequate restrooms and faulty lights. Sonics owner Barry Ackerley has threatened to move the team after this season if an agreement on a new arena cannot be reached.

Mayor Norm Rice has discussed the situation with Sonics officials and another meeting is scheduled within two weeks, said Mark Murray, a spokesman for Rice.

'We've had a number of discussions with the Sonics over the past six weeks and every indication is that the discussions are going well,' Murray said. 'We're very optimistic we'll reach an agreement, one that is acceptable to the city and acceptable to the Sonics.

City and team officials refused to discuss details of the talks.

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