NBA gives city of Sacramento time to counter Seattle’s offer to purchase the Kings

by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

Kevin Johnson courtside at halftime of the Sacramento Kings' game against the Miami Heat. (Photo: Steven Chea)

Sacramento will be allowed to present its case to keep the Kings to the NBA Board of Governors.  Speaking at the 15th annual State of Downtown breakfast at the Sacramento Convention Center, Mayor Kevin Johnson announced that David Stern has given the community an opportunity to counter the offer made by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer to purchase the Kings and move the team to Seattle.

“I spoke to Commissioner Stern over the weekend,” Johnson said. “And I asked him for permission to be able to address the NBA governing board and it was granted.  So once again Sacramento, we’ll get a chance to put our best foot forward.

“The commissioner says that our community has every right to present a counter-offer that’s fair and competitive and to talk about what this team means to not only our city and our region. And I’m really excited about that opportunity.”

The mayor gave the city’s push to save the Kings a new name: “Playing to win.”

“We want this to be the final act of a saga that’s went on for far too long,”  Johnson said.

The mayor laid out a four-step plan in the city’s process to keep the Kings in Sacramento to the crowd in attendance.

  • Identify potential equity partners.
  • Identify a potential local ownership group.
  • Demonstrate the city and region’s commitment to partner on a downtown arena.
  • Demonstrate the viability and strength of the Sacramento market.

The mayor also described the criteria for ownership interested in the Kings.

The timeline, as the mayor described, is a “six-week sprint” to the Mar. 1 relocation deadline.

“Needless to say I’ve been up all night for the last four or five days,” Johnson said. “It’s going to take all of us coming together, working collectively. It’s a sprint for six weeks.”

Coinciding with Johnson’s announcement was a report by the Sacramento Bee of AEG’s continued interest in the downtown arena deal.  A spokesperson for the entertainment giant told the local paper: “We remain committed to the mayor and the city, and we would be more than happy to meet with a potential new owner.”

“There’s been folks that are interested,” Johnson told a group of reporters following the breakfast when asked about the potential site of a new arena.  “I don’t want to get into detail right now, but you guys have read the railyard is in play and downtown plaza is being considered by potentially another group.  But I don’t want to confirm any of that.  It’s just too early to speculate.”

As an anecdotal device, Johnson referenced San Francisco’s fight to keep the Giants from leaving the bay area 20 years ago.  In 1992, a group of investors from the Tampa, Fl. area agreed to purchase the team from then-owner Bob Lurie.  But a group, led by Peter McGowan and Larry Baer, came in the final hour to convince Major League Baseball to give the city by the bay one more chance.

“We have every reason to believe in our community that we can do the same thing that was done in San Francisco,” Johnson said.  “It’s gonna take all of us working together.

“Again there’s six weeks,” he continued. “We’re gonna work really, really hard and we’re gonna ask everybody in here to be involved in some capacity. It’s gonna take the community support, our fans, our grassroots efforts, our corporate business communities to all do what you’ve done in the past.”

Listen to the mayor’s address in the audio file below.

[powerpress]http://www.cowbellkingdom.com/sound/kevin_johnson_011513.mp3[/powerpress]

Can’t see the audio player?  Listen here.

Listen to the mayor take questions from reporters in the audio file below.

[powerpress]http://www.cowbellkingdom.com/sound/kj_talks_to_media_011513.mp3[/powerpress]

Can’t see the audio player?  Listen here.

Information provided by Mike Simpson of KFBK Radio was used to write this story.

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