Seattle, Sacramento Step Into The Ring

HANG TIME WEST – This battle has been Sacramento against Seattle all along.

It’s not Sacramento against itself, because it was inevitable the city would build a new ownership conglomerate and a new arena plan. And it’s not Seattle against the NBA, because the league has been very clear in its interest in returning to Washington state.

If Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer headed the same group to buy the Kings to play in Sacramento, it breezes through the approval process. If any city other than Seattle is trying to poach the team – Anaheim, Las Vegas, Virginia Beach – Sacramento mounts a successful comeback victory and probably wins easy.

Sacramento against Seattle.

Today, for the first time, they go head-to-head, with both mayors, representatives from both hopeful ownership groups and leaders from both West Coast locations on the East Coast to make presentations to NBA officials and select owners to gather information. That leads into the April 18-19 Board of Governors meeting and a vote on the future of the Kings. And that leads to an outcome that will impact the NBA for many years.

Either a new arena is being built to keep a team in Sacramento or a new arena is being built to bring a team back to Seattle, and there is still no hint from the league office that the win-win scenario in both cities is possible. No expansion, commissioner David Stern said without wiggle room during All-Star weekend in February in Houston, the last comment on the matter.

Every indication is that this will be a very tough call for the Board of Governors, with strong arguments each way as well as counter-arguments and more counter-arguments. Statistical data will be offered as supporting evidence, and so will emotion. The pitches will be so far reaching that Seattle may promote its massive international corporate base, and Sacramento will definitely promote Vivek Ranadive as the general partner of the proposed ownership group that will make the entire league money by broadening the appeal of the NBA in his native India.

There are so many layers to this:

  • If the Seattle bid is voted down later this month – if – don’t be surprised if the current owners, the Maloof family, holds on to the Kings for a while. It could be a few months to step back and see who else wants to play Monopoly now that the team is on the open market, but that would be long enough to have control over trades, draft and free agency. They could still sell late in the summer and give the new owner enough time to draw more than 3,500 fans a game.The Maloofs have not ruled out the possibility of owning the Kings next season. That’s more of a longshot than the July/August scenario, but the family is considering all options at this point. Including staying on and gauging the mood with a new commissioner, Adam Silver.

    If Seattle is denied and the Maloofs sell? It will have to be to a group that will own the team in Sacramento. Again, the Board of Governors vote is about location. If California’s capital city wins, the team stays no matter who is at the top of the masthead.

  • Voting consideration No. 1: It makes sense that small-market owners would prefer competing against the local TV money of other small-market teams. Boost for Sacramento. Except that some owners, from markers of any size, could want the cut of the to-be-decided relocation fee. Boost for Seattle. (See, counters to every argument.)
  • Voting consideration No. 2: Ranadive’s late addition to the Sacramento group, after Stern backhanded the first offer of its attempted counter-strike, is a positive. How much of a positive is unclear. Owners have to at least be intrigued by the potential of increasing the revenue stream in India, and the relationships he may have already built as No. 3 man in Golden State ownership group can help. But the Warriors may already have been in the Sacramento camp. It is possible Ranadive will not swing a vote.
  • Voting consideration No. 3: Stern, who has worked for years to keep the Kings from moving, has lost one of his most compliant voters. The Maloofs historically followed the commissioner’s lead on most topics. They’re clearly looking out for their best interests on this one.
  • Kobe Bryant, dismissing the notion that Saturday’s game at Sleep Train Arena was the last installment of Lakers-Kings, once a great rivalry before the Kings fell off the map: “They’ve been singing the same song for three years. Enough already.” He is sort of right. This has been the Sacramento saga on a loop. But it has never been like this. There has never been a relocation vote weeks away. There has never been a Seattle.
  • One important clarification: When Stern said recently an outgoing owner will not dictate where that team would play, he was indicating the decision belonged to the Board of Governors once the owner had reached a sales agreement. It did not mean the BOG can makes the initial sales agreement. The governors’ power is in approving or denying a deal, not making it. Some people in Sacramento took that to mean owners can simply force the Maloofs to take a deal from the Ranadive-Mark Mastrov-Ron Burkle consortium. Not true.
  • The read at the moment? Pick ‘em. Both sides have precedents in their favor, both sides have strong arguments, both sides have the emotional factor of passionate fan bases. The needle likely moves based on whatever feedback comes out of today’s important gathering, but this is setting up as a little more than two weeks of tension around the league, and especially around two cities.

40 Comments

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  2. sactownfan says:

    I don’t know how any of you can sleep at night. As a king’s fan, who over the years, have put my blood sweat and tears into this organization. Not only am i a 15+ year season ticket holder, i have provided many years of service to our fans, our players and our city. I am not the only one who will be torn to see them go, just like every single Seattle fan. My heart can not, and will not go out for them because off the loss of the sonics. They are trying to back door us and steal the kings, after years of BS from the maloof family. We now have a chance to have dedicated owners, who not only want the kings to succeed, but will also be backing them up. After a difficult loss, after a lotter season, and even after an NBA champion. People say the kings this, and past years have done nothing good, and are stuck in a losing way with an even worse market, will not change. But i must ask you this question. Who in their right mind would give everything they can to a pair of gouls who are money hungry and lousy people. I do not and will not work for men or women that do not support anything to do with this organization.. New owners, new kings.

  3. How could they? says:

    How could they deny KJ after allowing him to proceed? No politician again will stick their neck out on behalf of professional sports. It will be a record breaking deal for one of the NBA smallest markets, Hansen will bow out gracefully and Seattle will have a team within 3 years.

  4. skrutz says:

    C’mon, Sonics! Vancouver has no Grizzlies anymore, and there are NBA fans here who need a nearby team to root for….

  5. Kingsfan says:

    One comment said that the Sacramento needs a change, a new front office, let them go to Seattle. If the NBA decides to let Seattle STEAL the Kings from Sacramento, then Sacramento will never have another Professional sports team of any kind ever again. At least in our life time.

  6. Bucks 4 Life says:

    Stern says expansion isn’t an option. Maybe under Silver in a few years it should be, 32 teams by 2015. Make it happen.

  7. Dino4life says:

    Its not hypocrisy, David stern said they will NOT expand in the U.S. in the foreseeable future, and as long as kevin durant is in the league OKC is not going anywhere. So basically there is no other choice, if a US city wants an NBA team they have to take someone else’s, London has a better chance of getting an expansion team and its across the freaken ocean go figure. and its not the same as Seattle, the group that bought had planned to move the team to OKC before they even bought the team, then once they got it did everything they could to get out of their lease 2 years early. Here nobody is lying, nobody is stealing everybody’s intentions are clear except the Maloofs but they will no longer be involved after this month.

  8. David says:

    GO KINGS!!!….New Arena!! Billionaire Owners!! 10,000+ Season Ticket Commitments!! Young Team!!….Loyal Fan base!!…..sorry Seattle but the Kings are staying in SACRAMENTO!!

  9. jiovany soltero says:

    billcollector1999 is right on thiss one with the history thing even though i hate okc
    they r going to keep the 2011,2012 division titles and the 2012 conference title
    the sonics if they come back they will take back the rest

  10. Scorpio says:

    While I think a team in Seattle would have a huge following and fan base, I don’t get why Seattle fans are so determined to do to another city what was done to them. Hypocrisy much? I would be excited for a Thunder vs. SuperSonics game, just because I know OKC would get booed by Seattle, a pitiful move since it’s not the players or coaching staffs fault but rather the Seattle governments fault, and then OKC would just dominate on them.

  11. Scorpio says:

    If Seattle were to win the bid, they would be getting the Kings history since the Sonics history is with the Thunder in OKC. So the new Sonics would have the name and look but with the history of the Kings. Plus, why are Seattle fans so determined to do to another city what was done to them? I thought it was an atrocity that it was done to Seattle, so shouldn’t they be leading the fight for a team to NOT be stolen from a city? Hypocrisy at its finest.

    • ken says:

      When Seattle gets its team, it restores its history, OKC wants its own, and part of deal with Seattle ,
      Seattle gets to keep its history and name, so this idea OKC and seattle gets to share its history is silly,

  12. mike says:

    Sorry to rain on the Sac comeback parade but Chris Hansen doesn’t have a little league group here. haha The Seattle group is packed with the Corp America Elite and you don’t beat them because you can’t.. Little world of advice Microsoft guys never lose in the business world, so I would be surprised if I did not see the Kings playing in Seattle next season. If Chris had just some normal investors then I could understand people believing SAC has a chance to keep their team.. Put it to you like this Chris Hansen has put together the Miami heat version of a investment group. A team of superstar investors in the business world. These guys do not mess around usually if they want it they get it.

    • Linda says:

      @ Mike,

      Really??? Do you understand anything about the PROCESS? The Hansen group does not have the last say in this, The OWNERS OF THE NBA DO, the kings ONLY need 8 VOTES out of the 30 owners to say yes to the Sacramento deal, Don’t bet your pay check Mike that it will definetly be Seattle’s win, Watch and mostly LISTEN….

      GO KINGS!!!! diehard fan since 1985…. obtw…..

  13. J-Doub says:

    Bring back the Sonics! It’s about time! I’m sorry for Sac but it’s over!

  14. BillCollector1999 says:

    hard to say even if seattle wins the move still has to be approved, what gets me though is how is seattle gonna get their history back if OKC claims it
    Championships
    1 (1979)

    Conference titles
    4 (1978, 1979, 1996, 2012)

    Division titles
    8 (1979, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2005, 2011, 2012)

    • Muttchild says:

      EzaP, you sure you know any of the facts my friend? Google is an amazing thing when used correctly. Sac had nothing to do with it, your reaching buddy. Also, your city can’t say the same thing since you guys sat on you hands while the truck pulled in. Sac has supported their team to the fullest evidently or we wouldn’t be going back to the BOG again and if you look at the history for sellouts we killl you guys and your in a so-called better market. It’s a shame that Hansen got involved with cowards and tried to keep a lid on their arrangement until the last minute so we wouldn’t have a leg to stand on and that didn’t even work for you. Research

    • Scorpio says:

      In the agreement to sell the Sonics, it was agreed that the history could be shared between the Thunder and any future team in Seattle. Strange but it would be shared between the 2 teams.

  15. aznballer says:

    I think it’s time for California to let go of ONE TEAM out of the FOUR TEAMS they have right now….

    Seattle, Washington ain’t a bad place for a team to start fresh.

    Look how OKC became a top 3 team since they got a new start.

  16. Aaron says:

    I imagine on the last week of October of this year on Opening Night , Oklahoma City Thunder @ Seattle SuperSonics on National Television. BRING BACK THE SONICS

  17. Casey says:

    Just my opinion, but I think there are two key issues here. The owners are business people, and purchase price aside, would one of these locations benefits their wallets enough that they would be hard pressed to turn it down? The other is whether or not Sacramento is still a “basketball crazed” town as they were historically. You can blame the poor attendance of recent years on the Maloofs, but the Maloofs initially started shopping the team BECAUSE of declining attendance. The ticket pledges in both cities mean nothing as far as real ticket sales because they are non-binding. You would expect a big percentage of people to pledge without later spending, that said it says a lot that in a non-binding pledge Sacramento only squeaked out 10,000 signatures over a month while Seattle collected more than 44,000.

    • Joe says:

      Just an FYI, the Kings ticket pledges were for Season Ticket buyers. The Seattle pledges were just for game tickets.

  18. jacobm says:

    i think this on is a no-brainer, more money in the offer from Seattle and Cal already has 3 teams. the only way Sac is getting a team after this season is if there is another expansion when Stern steps down

  19. itsfinn says:

    Time for the Sonics to come back.

    From San Anotnio

  20. Merv says:

    Time for the Sonics to come back.

    From San Anotnio

  21. DJ3 says:

    I personally want Seattle to win the bid. I don’t live in Seattle, and never even watched the Sonics. But I think the Kings need a new start. And, a new front office.

  22. dd def says:

    i’d really hate to see what happened to us in the northwest happen to kings fans, they’ve been so great and loyal through thick and, more commonly, thin. but at the same time, I want so bad for seattle to be back in the NBA.

  23. dan says:

    get rid of the kings and let the free agent signings begin!!! all those hot players swelling the ranks of other teams making the nba have way better players in it!!

  24. tony.m says:

    Go Kings!!!! lets do it!

    • Carol says:

      This was not Sacramento dropping the “ball”!!! This was Sacramento having to deal with the Maloofs, which has always been crazy!

  25. Christopher says:

    BRING MY SONICS BACK!!!

  26. KNICKS 4 LIFE says:

    LETS GO KNICKS LETS GO KNICKS……..BEAT THE HEAT BEAT THE HEAT

  27. EZaP says:

    I feel for Sac, but they’ve dropped the ball if you ask me. Funny how serious it all of the sudden is for Sac after years of bs and no deals. Welcome Sonics, we can’t wait to have you back.

  28. ben says:

    ur biased for sacramento

  29. just as i thought it would be time