NBA Says No to Return of Seattle SuperSonics
The hopes of relocating the struggling Sacramento Kings to Seattle took a big hit Monday.
The NBA's Relocation and Finance committee today recommended the Kings stay in Sacramento, perhaps killing Seattle's chances of getting an NBA team back.
On a conference call with the committee it was revealed they voted unanimously to keep the team in California. While the 30 team owners must vote on the proposal put forth by Seattle investor Chris Hansen by May 13, it appears that could be a formality. In previous situations the owners have almost always followed the lead of the relocation and finance committee (which includes 12 owners -- including the current owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Clay Bennett).
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Investor Chris Hansen, who leads the Seattle group, had a signed purchase agreement with the Maloof family to buy 65 percent of the Kings for $341 million, and a total valuation of $525 million. He then offered to raise that valuation to $550 million. Hansen has already paid the Maloofs $30 million, in the form of a down payment.
In Sacramento, Johnson had led an effort to put together a $441 million term sheet, passed by that City's council, that uses $258 million in public financing to build a new downtown Sports and Entertainment complex. Johnson and a group of investors led by Golden State Warriors owner Vivek Ranadive believe it could be enough to propel the league, and the Maloofs, to reject Hansen in favor of their "back-up" offers.
There have been conflicting reports about whether that group's bid was binding, and included a down payment.
Hansen and other investors have been trying to woo an NBA team back to Seattle after the Sonics left for Oklahoma City. Prior to their departure, the Sonics were one of the worst-marketed teams in all professional sports. In fact, during the last season in 2008, fans in the Tri-Cities and Eastern Washington could not hear Sonic games on radio or watch them on TV because no media outlets wanted to buy the broadcast rights.
Despite the lack of on-court success in Sacramento, the franchise has sold out dozens of games.
Major Kevin Johnson, a former NBA standout, put together a huge financial package that would build a new arena for the team, and provide many upgrades to attract fans and help the franchise if they were to stay.