Sacramento Lines Up Minority Investors

Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson took the first tangible steps Tuesday in a stand to keep the Kings, announcing that 19 local businesses or people had committed $1 million each to become minority owners and saying he hopes to have a majority investor, the key piece to the late-game rally, lined up by the end of the week.

A 20th person at $1 million was later added.

The news conference was more pep rally than anything, complete with fans cheering on Johnson’s comments, some wearing Kings gear and holding pro-Sacramento signs while standing behind the mayor on camera. Left unsaid was the fact that the group will be trying to buy a team that has already been sold.

The Sacramento plan still being formed will become a factor only if the Board of Governors votes down the purchase by a Seattle group that plans to move the Kings to Washington before the start of next season. The Seattle interests, headed by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, had closed its deal by the time Johnson had revealed a small fraction of the money that will be required if Sacramento does get a chance.

There is, Johnson said, “a sense of urgency in this community and the time is ticking. I think all of you know that. I was supposed to be in Washington for the inauguration. I cancelled my trip. We have been here working our tail off, and everybody here in some shape or form is doing everything that we possibly can to keep our team here.”

Comissioner David Stern has told Johnson the mayor will have a chance to address the Board of Governors in April before a vote. But if the Board – one representative from every team, usually an owner – approves the Hansen-Ballmer offer, Sacramento’s hopes will have ended without an official bid to the Maloof family.

While Johnson has a lot of credibility around the league as a mayor, not as a former All-Star point guard with the Suns, the chances of Hansen-Ballmer being denied are considered slim at best. Most any other city on the other side of the vote and Sacramento has a chance. But the Seattle proposal, with everything from deep-pocket owners to a region with a history of supporting sports to a new arena being planned to corporate backing at an international level, is a daunting opponent.

“(The proposed majority owner) will be revealed soon,” Johnson said at the City Hall announcement. “I will say this. This was a first step, because we wanted our community to be the one leading the way, and that’s what we did. We only found out this news (that the Maloofs were close to selling) a week ago. For us to rally at the speed that we did says an awful lot.”

He said the city is making “great progress” on someone who will bring the real financial backing to the deal.


  1. justsaying says:

    KJ was always great at getting to the basket quickly.
    However this may be one play he’ll have trouble finishing.

    Hopefully whichever city loses out will be considered upon the next inevitable expansion.

  2. KB24 says:

    seattle first of all should have never moved to OKC. Look what the SuperSonics would be right now.

  3. #KingsAllDay says:

    Kings better not be sold!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. twister says:

    This is crazy what many say here, ofcourse the city was aware that Kings owners will sell the team, it’s not a 10 days old message, it’s a message that has been known over the world for many years! They had many chances but they did absolutely nothing, no new arena, no new big investors who could afford to buy team for 300mln $. Even now you see that they managed to collect only 20 mln where at least 300mln is needed. Then you have to built a new arena which is another 300mln where will you get that money from if the teams stays in Sacramento? Besides, I don’t remember when was the last time the Kings played well and made the playoffs? The team never had any big success, there was a time when webber, divac, bibby and stojakovic took the team to the conference finals, but from that nothing good happened. Earlier in the 90’s the only good player I remember was Mitch Richmond, the rest were terrible players and the team was always at the bottom since they moved from rochester and kansas to Sacramento. I don’t want to say that Sacramento does not deserve a team, fans are great and I like the team, but it’s a business and it must make profits not debts. Seattle for sure is a bigger city with bigger market, also there’s no other NBA team there, california has now four. You will see that one day the Sonics will get a championship, they have always supported great players . Payton, Kemp, Durant, westbrook, they’re all stars drafted by Sonics. Kings have never drafted a great player (beside tyreke) I hope that after moving to Seattle, major changes to the squad will be taken and they will again support great players not the terrible ones, also the coaching staff will change and the management, they talk now about Phil Jackson or Larry Bird – that means they take this realy serious!

    For the fans of Sacramento, let’s hope some day the NBA expands and the city gets the team back, but I’m not sure if they will ever have the money to take so many steps to build a new arena because there was already a chance and they have so many years (a decade?) to build one and nothing happened.

  5. zgillet says:

    I don’t think anyone outside of Sacremento, even AN HOUR AND A HALF outside (Warriors), wants a team there instead of Seattle.

  6. lc says:

    What are you all complaining about? Look at the Kings history. Rochester, then Cincinnati, then Kansas City, then Sacramento and soon Seattle. They were destined to relocate anyways. You either get screwed or screw someone else first. That’s the American way.

    • Jay says:

      You are right Ic. The Kings used to be the Royals. In a prefect world they would still be in Kansas City, since they just built a new arena.

  7. lc says:

    Sacramento Kings…see Cleveland Browns….err I mean Baltimore Ravens.

  8. Griffin #71 says:

    This is WRONG! Seattle were very disappointed (understatement) when the SuperSonics were move to Oklahoma City and changed to the Thunder but disappointing the city of Sacramento by moving the Kings to Seattle should not happen. I agree Seattle does need a team but not the Kings. Why not Toronto and then move New Orleans into the Eastern Conference ’cause lets face it Canada doesn’t really need a team. And if this move does happen it better be the Seattle SuperSonics I watch play not the Seattle King <—WTF.

  9. Jay says:

    I think the owners are at fault. Mayor Johnson is wrong when he says that isn’t about city vs city. The greedy owners of NBA teams when they can’t get a new arena from their cities threaten to sell or move to new cities who want the NBA. The Sonics shouldn’t have lost their team to OKlahoma City. I’m a Bucks fan who thinks the Bucks might be ripe for the plucking since we need a new areana & the Milwaukee city politicians are balking. There are other cities that maybe in the same boat. If this sale goes thru will the officials of Sacramento go after these cities teams.

  10. factsdontmatter says:

    is kevin johnson the mayor of basketball because it seems like thats all hes focused on

  11. Trent says:

    how are you saying that the city had no idea im in Australia and I have been aware of this for at least 8 months

  12. Bstarr says:

    Nice post Scott. But Kevin Johnson should not get involved in this matter. There are no guarantees that this team will be more competitive the next couple of years. So why trying to hold a team in your city while they are not competing for the championship? And loyal fans….Sleep Train Arena is not sold out every game, so we are talking about a minority here. So no chance on a playoff spot, no chance on the league championship and just a small group of loyal fans. I would say let it go to Seattle and invest the money there!

  13. Sacramento was unaware the Kings were for sale until probably 10 days ago when the news of a potential Hansen/Balmer deal leaked out from Seattle. Apparently the Maloofs had been working on that deal since early December unknown to Sacramento. At this point Sacramento and Kevin Johnson are in “crunch” time with no time to lose. Our Mayor is talking with several “big money” buyers ranging from $1.7 billion to $6 billion in money. The biggest potential investor was a minority partner in the King’s ownership group (Jim Thomas) preceding the Maloof purchase. When things are firmed up we will have more money than the Hansen/Balmer team has, with plenty left to build a downtown arena. I don’t blame the Maloof family for negotiating with Seattle first… they wouldn’t have gotten nearly as good an offer starting with Sacramento.

    Seattle deserves an NBA team. It was only because of Seattle’s political short sightedness that they lost their team in the first place. Our hope is that Seattle gets an expansion team because of this.

    • Eric says:

      Hate to tell you but if your numbers are correct that the Sacramento mayor is talking to people worth $1.7 to $6 billion than they will not have “more money than the Hansen/Balmer team”. Steve Balmer is worth $15.7 billion on his own from what forbes listed in 2012. Not sure on Hansen’s net worth. Balmer sounds like he is more than willing to put a big chunk of his money behind a bid for the team.

  14. Rarri says:

    Listen, I don’t care whatsoever about all this going back and forth. THE SONICS ARE BACCCCCKKKKK! And it’s time for Seattle to return to the basketball world. Sorry to all the kings fans I know how u feel but I cannot say how much this franchise will thrive in the northwest

  15. Carole Garloff says:

    Good to know we dont deserve a NBA team. Wow, and to think I actually felt bad for you guys. And its 3 pro teams…SEAHAWKS, MARINERS and SOUNDERS you dolt! Pro basketball was in Seattle first, before Football, Baseball and then Soccer. So I guess I wont feel bad when we make it 5 Pro teams…cant forget NHL!! HA HA!! . #GOSONICS!!

  16. Jason says:

    It seems the financial instability of the Maloof family would have indicated that would have to sell or go bankrupt. The Hansen/Balmer group recognized that and approached them to purchase team even though the team was not officially for sale. All of it is business and only came to light recently, though the past couple years in hind sight would point in that direction of selling. The Maloof family obviously does not care about team, fans, employees with arena and the city itself, because if they did they would have announced that they were putting the team up for sale to give local buyers a chance.

  17. Angelo says:

    Who’s this loose guy? Do us a favor, don’t comment on anything related to this ordeal in the future unless you know the facts. It’s people like you that slow this country down.

  18. #kingsallday says:

    the kings belong to sac, the mayor is gonna help us keep our team! seattlehas tow pro sports teams already, they dont deserve a basketball team

    • lol says:

      There’s a reason they have two pro sport team(if that’s right). That’s because they are successful, and have potential for a strong fan base. I personally think the Maloof brothers have finally seen that the Sacramento kings as an organization (from owners to players, and janitors) just need a fresh start. The team is not doing good, and you have less than optimistic players. This isnt the maple leafs where you can be a bad team and still make more than enough money. The kings need a fresh start, its not about the city thy are moving to. Its about getting a fresh start, and the Maloof family have finally realized that. Hence their decision to sell.

  19. dandan says:


    both sacramento and seattle have the most supportive nba crowds and cities.

    both deserve nba teams

  20. big jebb says:

    seattle couldn’t keep the team they had and all they had to do was build clay a new arena. don’t move the kings as seattle is unworthy of another nba shot.

    • Jason says:

      Clay Bennett never intended on keeping the team in Seattle, almost like the Maloof family seems to not want to sell to local ownership to keep the team there!

  21. EFJ says:

    Just political game. This team will go to Seattle For Sure!

  22. Michael says:

    All he is trying to do is make a show by fighting for a team that has already been sold. The NBA is not going to reject the sell when there is a opportunity to bring a team back to Seattle. He had months to do what was needed and try to work out a arena deal but failed significantly. Let them go and learn from the mistakes. Granted they were operated by a bad set of owners but it is what it is. The deal is done, its going to be approved.

  23. rooster cogburn says:

    this whole ordeal has become quite dramatic and almost theatrical.

  24. brian says:

    Actually is good news for sacramento fans if these investors make their dream possible to keep the team in their hometown. Loose89 this is not about the mayor, this is about business and the mayor cant do anything unless he find the people to invest. This is not the responsability of the mayor if the owners from private partnership.

  25. loose89 says:

    Let the team go KJ, you’ve had months to take action but have sat on your hands until someone bought the team. Why now? if you were serious about keeping the team you would’ve made a move like this before the Seattle based group bought the team, you had time, you did nothing.

    • Danny says:

      The city did not know that the team was for sale, that’s why they did not attempt to create a group of investors. Pay attention.

      • person says:

        Oh but they did! There were many rumors about a possible return to Seattle and after the Kings arena deal failed, Sacramento knew they were Seattle’s best candidate. They could’ve done something then before any ACTUAL buying and selling talks took place. But they didn’t which has left them in this situation>

      • Aaron says:

        Don’t forget, he actually stopped the Kings from relocating to Anaheim temporarily with the hope of getting an arena in Sacramento. So you can’t put the full blame on KJ.

      • zgillet says:

        There were rumors of the team leaving like 4 years ago.

    • AussieSonic says:

      You are 100% right my man

    • Sean says:

      WRONG. The Maloofs have repeatedly said they would NEVER sell. Buyers were willing but the Maloofs rejected any offer put on the table to take over the team. The Maloofs have screwed Sacramento over by announcing that they would sell, without a chance for anyone who would keep the team in Sac to propose a deal.

      After a decade of investing the absolute bare minimum into the team and Sacramento’s continued support, they tried to move the team to LA of all places. Now they are trying to sell it to Seattle, again without any notice. You would think they would have the decency to allow people to bid on the team and keep it in Sac. These owners are rotten and can’t afford to own an NBA team. The people of Sacramento deserve better than this and the NBA board of governers would make a huge mistake by allowing this transaction.

    • james says:

      itll look good on his resume

    • Brandon M says:

      Just another loud mouth who is uninformed and has no idea what he’s talking about. I know that there aren’t any pictures in this article for you to look at but it clearly says “We only found out this news a week ago.” The Maloofs have always claimed that the Kings were not for sale. In fact, Ron Burkle made an attempt to buy the Kings 2 years ago from the Maloofs and they wouldn’t budge. One week ago it was suddenly reported that the Maloofs and the Hansen/Ballmer group were very close to reaching a deal. The dealings were all done behind the city’s back. Had the city known the team was for sale, and given a fair chance to make an offer, then KJ’s team would have been put together much sooner. Anymore smart comments professor?

    • A V says:

      That’s just not true. KJ didn’t sit on his hands, he got an arena deal done which the Maloofs later reneged on. He was also involved in rallying up potential buyers. Ron Burkle was very open about his interest in buying the team and keeping it in Sacramento two years ago when the team was on the verge of moving to Anaheim. It was just that the Maloofs had always insisted that the team was not for sale until now.

      Maybe you didn’t know, but its definitely not fair to say he had his chance and did nothing.

    • person says: