Sacramento and Seattle to duke it out in New York for rights to Kings


Here We Stay signs at Here We Buy Night 1 (Photo: Steven Chea)

NEW YORK – The final chapter in the Sacramento Kings relocation/arena saga begins at 6:30 am PT today at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan.  While the outcome of this story may not be known until the NBA Board of Governors meetings on Apr. 18 and 19, this is shaping up to a heavyweight battle like no other.

When the bell sounds, the two sides will enter the ring, aimed at beating the living tar out of one another.  Only one will come away victorious.  The other will be dealt an incredible blow to its city.

The Seattle group is scheduled to pitch their plan to the NBA first, followed by the Sacramento contingent in the early afternoon.

What we know so far from Seattle

  • Chris Hansen, Steve Ballmer and the Nordstrom family have a legally binding contract with the Maloofs and fellow general partner Bob Hernreich to purchase a 65-percent majority ownership of the Kings.
  • A $30 million non-refundable deposit has been paid to the Maloof family as part of the contract.
  • Hansen has a $15-million deal to purchase Bob Cook’s 7-percent stake of the team from a California bankruptcy court. Hansen still needs a judge’s, as well as the NBA’s approval and to clear the right of first refusal from minority shareholders.
  • The Hansen-Ballmer group has a $490 million arena deal in place to build a new home for the Sonics in the SoDo district of Seattle.  The deal calls for between $120-200 million in public subsidy from local government and the rest will come from the proposed new ownership group.
  • There are hurdles that need to be cleared, including a longshoremen’s lawsuit and an I-90 review.  The validity of these two suits are unknown at this time, but the longshoremen suit has already been turned down by one judge and is on its way to a higher court on appeal.
  • The Seattle group announced 44,000 season ticket requests and nearly a thousand businesses inquiring about corporate sponsorships.

What we know so far from Sacramento

  • An ownership group led by Golden State Warriors Vice Chairman Vivek Ranadivé, 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, grocery tycoon Ron Burkle and the Jacobs family of Qualcomm fame is prepared to make a competitive offer to keep the team in Sacramento.
  • According to sources with knowledge of the situation and a tweet confirming the story by mayor Kevin Johnson late last night, Sacramento Kings minority owner Dave Lucchetti has decided to match Hansen’s bid for Bob Cook’s stake. The minority owners had 15 days to invoke their right of first refusal on Cook’s minority interest.
  • The ownership group and city of Sacramento have a term sheet for a new $448-million arena that would be built at the site of the Downtown Plaza. Sacramento City Council voted 7-2 last Tuesday to approve $258 million in public subsidies between bonds backed by the city’s parking asset and a handful of city-owned properties.
  • A lawsuit was filed yesterday threatening to push the city to a referendum on the arena deal. The validity of the claims against the city are not known at this time.
  • The Sacramento grassroots community has gathered over 10,000 pledges for season tickets and the business community has pledged $50 million in corporate sponsorships over the first five years in a new entertainment and sports complex.

What we know from the NBA

  • Three-fourths majority is needed to approve new ownership.  Sacramento needs eight no votes from the NBA’s Board of Governors to block the sale of the team to the Hansen-Ballmer group.
  • Simple majority is needed to approve relocation.  There are 30 teams in the league, Sacramento needs 16 no votes to deny the move.

Entering today’s meeting, confidence levels in both Sacramento and Seattle appear extremely high. While we have no idea when a final decision is made or even when it will be announced, today is the most important round in this heavyweight fight.

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About: James Ham

James Ham provides coverage through news analysis and in-depth interviews with Kings players and staff. James is also one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary "Small Market, Big Heart". James graduated UC Davis with a degree in history and is happily married with two children.