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Arts Festival, WNBA Team Battle

May 25, 2000

SEATTLE (AP) _ A storm is brewing over rights to Key Arena for the Labor Day 2001 weekend and could blow the Storm out of town, City Council members have been told.

The dispute between promoters of the city’s annual Bumbershoot arts festival and officials of the city’s new WNBA franchise was aired Wednesday before the council’s culture, arts and parks committee.

The committee wound up approving a one-year lease for the Storm, postponing a decision on 2001.

The club’s claim is based on the 2001 WNBA playoff schedule. Coach Lin Dunn doesn’t want to switch to another court, such as the Tacoma Dome.

``That would be a tremendous blow to the morale of the team,″ Dunn said.

Withholding the arena might violate the franchise agreement with the city and result in the club leaving town, Karen Bryant, senior director of WNBA operations for the Storm, said.

``It’s unacceptable to ask us to play a game in the Tacoma Dome,″ Bryant said.

Jane Zalutsky, executive vice president of One Reel, which produces Bumbershoot at the Seattle Center complex, said that with about 200,000 spectators and 2,000 performers, it cannot afford to lose the arena in a year when the Opera House, Flag Pavilion and Mercer Arena will be closed for renovation.

``It doesn’t seem fair that an event that’s been in this city 30 years should be put in such an iffy situation,″ Zalutsky said.

Losing Key Arena for top acts likely would cut attendance, risking a loss of corporate and radio sponsors, she said.

WNBA officials said they could accept two days, leaving two days for the festival to use the arena, but Zalutsky rejected that proposal.

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