NBA Owners Decide To Reject Sacramento Kings Relocation To Seattle

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnsn

On Wednesday the NBA Board of Governors met in Dallas and voted 22-8 to keep the Sacramento Kings in Sacramento rather than approving the sale of the Kings franchise to a Seattle group led by Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

The decision ended a 5 month deal between the Maloof family, majority owner of the Kings, and the Seattle group to buy a 65 percent controlling interest in the struggling franchise and move it to Seattle which lost the Seattle Super Sonics to Oklahoma City in 2008 and remains without an NBA team despite the steady efforts made by Chris Hansen to present an attractive offer to the NBA along with new plans to build an arena in Seattle, the largest U.S. city without an NBA team.

The Board of Governors decided  that Sacramento’s final push to submit a counteroffer to the Seattle group’s bid for the Kings was sufficient and acceptable to keep the 28 year old franchise rooted in Sacramento after last minute financing plans were drafted and local politicians in Sacramento moved quickly to approve new plans to build an arena in downtown Sacramento.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnsn
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson played a pivotal role in organizing Sacramento’s counteroffer  to keep the Kings in Sacramento by working behind the scenes to assemble a group of local investors and approve a $448 million arena deal with city subsidies of $258 million.

Mayor Johnson was mostly subdued after the vote was ruled in Sacramento’s favor, sensing that Sacramento’s win is a loss for Seattle which attempted to make a strong case to the NBA that it is serious about having a future basketball franchise return to the Pacific Northwest.
“I went to Seattle,” said Johnson, a former NBA guard who played with the Phoenix Suns.

“I played against those fans in that community. It’s a great sports town, it’s a great basketball community.  And for them to come up a little short, especially with what happened in 2008 to have lost their team, that’s devastating. That’s why we fought so hard” Johnson said.

NBA Commissioner David Stern admitted that Sacramento held an advantage over Seattle during the volatile bidding process that was filled with lots of twists and turns.

“It was advantage incumbent,” Stern said.

“This wasn’t an anti-Seattle vote, this was a pro-Sacramento vote.”

Commissioner Stern said there were no promises made to the Seattle group about future NBA team although he and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, who takes over as commissioner on Feb 1, 2014, later admitted that NBA expansion may become an option in the future.

Current Kings’ majority owner George Maloof said after the vote Wednesday that “there’s no pressure on us” to sell Kings to the Sacramento group but Commissioner Stern indicated that he would work to get a deal signed before the end of the week.

Seattle fans are still feeling stung by the NBA’s decision to allow Oklahoma investor Clay Bennett and his investment group to relocate the Seattle Supersonic franchise to Oklahoma City in 2008 with little resistance from the NBA to keep the team rooted in Seattle.

The strong advocacy and support from Commissioner Stern to prevent the Kings from relocating to Seattle viewed alongside the heavy-handed role he played to keep the New Orleans Hornets from being sold to an outside group in 2012 appears to be a double standard since the commissioner was seen by many in Seattle as not showing much of a commitment to keep the Supersonics from relocating in 2008.

Seattle Group lead investor Chris Hansen did not speak to reporters after the vote but he released a statement through his website stating the following message:
While we are obviously extremely disappointed with today’s relocation vote and truly believe we put forth both a significantly better offer and Arena plan, we do thank the league and the owners for their time and consideration and look forward to hearing back on our agreement to join the Maloofs as Limited Partners in the Kings.

But most of all I would like to thank everyone in Seattle who has been a part of our effort and supported our cause. Words simply can’t express how much your support has meant to me personally and to our City.  I truly believe we did everything possible to put our best foot forward in this process and you all should be proud and hold your heads high today.

Our day will come…and when it does it will just be that much sweeter for the struggle.

I love you Seattle!

—Chris Hansen








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