NBA Rejects Kings Move

Backers of new Seattle arena, and the return of the NBA to that city, received a blow April 29, as the NBA announced a key committee unanimously rejected the Maloof family’s proposed move of the Sacramento Kings to the city.

The combined relocation and finance advisory committee, made up of 12 team owners, isn’t the final word – that will come May 15 from the NBA Board of Governors, but it will be highly influential..

A Seattle investors group, headed by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, will have to get approval from 23 of 30 owners to buy the team, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The Maloofs agreed in January to sell their 65 percent stake in the Kings, pending NBA approval, to the Hanson-Ballmer group. Sacramento, led by mayor Kevin Johnson, recruited a rival group in an attempt to keep the team in California.

Both cities have pitched new arena facilities in an effort to court the Kings, and Seattle would appear to have the edge in market size and private financing. Sacramento has the “home” advantage, having been the team’s base for almost 30 years.

“While we are disappointed with the relocation committee’s recommendation, we … remain fully committed to seeing this transaction through,” Hansen said in a web posting to supporters, assuring them the effort to win NBA approval continues.

“As you are all well aware, we have a binding transaction to purchase the Kings for what would be a record price for an NBA franchise, have one of the best ownership groups ever assembled to purchase a professional sports team in the US, have clearly demonstrated that we have a much more solid Arena plan, have offered a much higher price than the yet to be finalized Sacramento Group, and have placed all of the funds to close the transaction into escrow.”

The Kings “hopes to have a deal finalized” by the May 15 vote, according to the Bee. The Maloof family will still have to accept any deal put forward by the Sacramento group.

Johnson didn’t specifically address Hansen’s statement but said he didn’t blame him for saying the Seattle group would continue its efforts.

“If I were them, I would keep fighting too,” the mayor told the paper. “That’s been our story the last three or four years. I don’t look down or begrudge anybody who’s fighting for something they desperately want.

“I think the message out of New York (with the relocation vote) was very loud and very clear.”