From staff and wire reports
The Sacramento Kings aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
The saga of the Kings’ future began back in January with an agreement between the Maloof family and Seattle-based investors Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that would have sold the team to them. They would then have brought the Seattle SuperSonics back to the NBA after they were relocated to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season.
But the Hansen/Ballmer group is coming away empty-handed in its attempt to bring the NBA back to the Emerald City, as the NBA’s Board of Governors voted 22-8 to deny relocation of the franchise, keeping it Sacramento for now.
The NBA’s relocation committee voted 7-0 on April 29 to recommend rejecting the relocation of the team to Seattle, but Hansen’s group tried to sweeten the pot by increasing the franchise’s valuation and offering a record relocation fee as well.
Sacramento’s efforts have been led by software magnate Vivek Ranadive as well as Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who have worked tirelessly to local and regional businesses and leaders to establish the framework for a new arena for the Kings.
The Ranadive group has a competing deal on the table based on the original franchise valuation of $525 million that Hansen and the Maloofs reached in January.
The Ranadive group has agreed to match the 65 percent price of $341 million for the Kings in that deal, and has put at least 50 percent of that $341 million into escrow. NBA Commissioner David Stern said last month that while the Sacramento bid to keep the Kings at the time was slightly lower than the Seattle bid, the league considered the Sacramento bid binding.
Although there has been substantial buzz in Seattle that there are potential antitrust issues that could be the basis for a lawsuit against the NBA if and when Hansen’s bid is rejected, Hansen’s group apparently remains uninterested in legal remedies upon rejection, according to the source.
Hansen believes that this may be the last time in the foreseeable future that political and business interests in Seattle will be aligned to give support for an NBA bid. The city of Seattle has committed up to $200 million toward construction of a $490 million arena in the city’s SoDo area, next to Safeco Field, where baseball’s Mariners play. Hansen, who has already purchased the land on which he wants to build the arena, would pay the rest.
Sacramento has committed $250 million toward construction of a $447 million arena that would be the centerpiece of a development plan at the current Downtown Plaza mall site.
Ranadive’s group, which includes 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov and the Jacobs Family, billionaire owners and managers of the Qualcomm company, has pledged to the NBA that it will not be a revenue sharing recipient if the Kings remain in Sacramento, citing the expected increased revenues the team will be able to get from a new building.
The Sacramento Bee reported this week that the NBA has encouraged the Ranadive group to put the remaining half of the $341 million into escrow as well to alleviate concerns of the Maloofs that the group has the financial wherewithal to complete the transaction.
Information from TNT analyst David Aldridge was used in this report.