Posted April 30, 2013

NBA relocation committee recommends against moving Sacramento Kings to Seattle

Ben Golliver, Chris Hansen, David Stern, Kevin Johnson, Sacramento Kings, Seattle Supersonics, Steve Ballmer
An NBA committee has voted against relocating the Kings to Seattle. (Rocky Widner/Getty Images)

An NBA committee has recommended against relocating the Kings to Seattle. (Rocky Widner/Getty Images)

The NBA’s relocation committee voted unanimously Monday to recommend that the Sacramento Kings should not be relocated to Seattle.

The committee has held several meetings in recent weeks and prepared a report for the NBA’s full Board of Governors, who will vote on the matter during the week of May 13. League rules require a seven-day waiting period for that report to be considered before a final, definitive vote of the Board of Governors can be taken.

Monday’s vote is widely regarded as a sign that the Kings will remain in Sacramento for the 2013-14 season, as any franchise sale requires approval from 23 of the league’s 30 owners while any prospective relocation requires 16 “yes” votes. Should the full Board of Governors vote against the relocation as expected, pressure will mount on the Maloof family to agree to accept a Sacramento-based group’s competing bid for the franchise.

NBA commissioner David Stern addressed the committee’s recommendation during a televised interview from a playoff game between the Pacers and Hawks in Atlanta on Monday night.

“I didn’t see a unanimous vote coming,” Stern said. “But they decided as strong as the Seattle bid was, and it was very strong, there’s some benefit that should be given to a city that has supported us for so long, and has stepped up to contribute to build a new building as well.”

Stern also said that he “can’t predict” how the full Board of Governors vote will turn out, but again ruled out the possibility of expansion as a means to accommodate Seattle’s desire for a team.

“That discussion will have to wait for [future] commissioner [Adam] Silver to oversee,” he said. “Right now, expansion is not on the agenda. I would never say never. It doesn’t make a lot of sense unless we know what the new TV deal is.”

The decision on the Kings’ fate has dragged on longer than anticipated. Stern initially expected the decision to be made during mid-April Board of Governors meetings, only to push that back multiple times. Stern has repeatedly referred to the handling of the Kings as one of the toughest decisions he’s faced as commissioner.

“It’s the only time in the last 47 years that I haven’t known the answer,” he said, earlier this month. “No, but this is one that’s just been quite difficult and confusing for the owners as well.  And we’ve been working very hard to give it a structure at their direction.  We’re the staff, and we are trying to answer every question that they have.”

The NBA announced a purchase and sale agreement between the Maloofs, who own a controlling interest of the Kings, and a Seattle-area group of investors — led by Valiant Capital’s Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer – back in January. That deal involved a purchase of 65 percent of the team at an overall franchise valuation of $525 million. The group later filed the requisite paperwork to relocate the franchise to Seattle for the 2013-14 season, where the organization would take on the “SuperSonics” moniker, and then upped its offer based on a $550 million valuation. The original SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder in 2008.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and a number of investors — including 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, billionaire Ron Burkle, TIBCO chairman Vivek Ranadive and Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs — have worked diligently to keep the Kings where they are, preparing a competing offer for the Kings and agreeing to terms on a new Downtown Plaza arena deal. Kings fans organized “Here We Buy” nights to show their support for keeping Sacramento’s only major professional sports franchise in town.

Back at All-Star weekend in February, Stern noted the possibility that one of the two cities would be left empty-handed in heartbreaking fashion.

“I don’t see any scenario in which both cities are happy here,” he said.

Monday’s news was met with elation from Johnson, who has seen the Kings survive multiple previous attempts at relocation by the Maloofs.

“That’s what I’m talking about SACRAMENTO!!!!! WE DID IT!!!!!,” Johnson tweeted on Monday. “I’ve never been prouder of this city. I thank the ownership group, city leaders, but most of all the BEST FANS IN THE NBA!!!”

Hansen issued a statement late Monday night on his website, SonicsArena.com, promising to fight on.

“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. As such, we plan to unequivocally state our case for both relocation and our plan to move forward with the transaction to the league and owners at the upcoming Board of Governor’s Meeting in Mid-May.

When we started this process everyone thought it was impossible. While this represents yet another obstacle to achieving our goal, I just wanted to reassure all of you that we have numerous options at our disposal and have absolutely no plans to give up. Impossible is nothing but a state of mind.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn also offered a brief statement on Twitter.

“I’m proud of how Sonics fans have rallied together to help Seattle get a team,” he wrote. “We’re going to stay focused on our job: making sure Seattle remains in a position to get a team when the opportunity presents itself.”

The Maloofs, which had appealed to the league’s owners this month to approve the sale to Seattle, had no comment on the latest developments, according to CBSSports.com.

12 comments
ron mexico1
ron mexico1

I personally boycott the NBA  and Starbucks. Each were culprits in Seattle losing the Sonics. Fortunately , time has healed wounds and im used to not have the NBA  or  Starbucks in my life.  Im not mad that we lost this bid for 2 reasons.

1. It would be morally wrong to do to Sac , what was done to us. i would not be happy having stealing another team. it still would not feel like the sonics.  Who know Stern and Bennett are corrupt and will drive the NBA into the ground.


2. I'm not interested in bring back a team that is complete garbage. We have enough losing teams here. I'm not going to buy tickets to support another crappy team anyway.  Let Sac keep their garbage if they want it. we lost Durant, so unless your relocating the heat or some other great team  here  i would not support another lost cause.


Enjoy your team Sac. I hope they get better , but dont come crying to Seattle when you realize your tax dollars pay for garbage.

nortran11
nortran11

Yet another kick in the balls to Seattle from the NBA. Stern and Bennett used the Hanson group as leverage to get Sacramento to pony up....Sacramento was held hostage and Hanson was the bartering chip. Why the hell couldn't Bennett have been after a MLB team? We would have given him a sweet deal on the Mariners!

krog
krog

The Seattle buyers now own a Sacramento team that cannot be moved. Watch the agreement to build a new arena in Sacramento fall apart, and don't expect media advertising support from the northwest.

6marK6
6marK6

The Sonics should have never been moved out of Seattle, that was a crime. I will never change my opinion on this. HOWEVER, although this situation was not identical to what happened in Seattle, it would have been equally corrupt to have moved the Kings out of Sacramento. Here is hoping that Seattle someday gets another team, either expansion or a team that just cannot make it somewhere else (T-Wolves, Bobcats, Pelicans)

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

The big losers in all this - taxpayers who are funding the stadiums and arenas for billionaire owners and multi-millionaire players. Which is the main reason franchise values have gone through the roof - they come with a free billion dollar facility. All taxpayers surrounding a stadium help pay for it - even though most will never attend a game. (Or can afford to).

Lefty-G
Lefty-G

Seattle fans can't have it both ways—they can't cry about being screwed when the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City, then cry again because NBA refused to screw another city. We all agree that Seattle was screwed before, but where's the logic in screwing a second undeserving city just to placate the first undeserving city? The Seattle group made their mistake by getting in bed with the Maloofs, maybe the biggest losers in pro sports—everything they touch turns to dust (remember the Sacramento Monarchs?). They have zero credibility with anyone they've ever dealt with, and that includes the NBA.

atwood.t
atwood.t

I would be surprised if Seattle will ever consider putting up any public money for a new stadium or team.  NBA has scr***d Seattle again.

RikcXavierBjurström
RikcXavierBjurström

no hard feelings to SAC fans. They did everything they needed to do. But seriously, David Stern is a snake. The NBA deserves better than this ego maniac. Thanks for nothing Stern. I'm done with the NBA, and I think so is Seattle.

akpol2l
akpol2l

@WilyCoyoteSuperGenius You have got to remember, however, that the effects of a properly ran sports franchise go way beyond the simple facts of "taxpayers paying for an arena"... One of the best investments a city, and its people, can make is in a professional sports team. In its success, we all benefit; regardless of whether or not we attend the games. And in this particular situation, I like the risk/ reward scenario only if the new owners are the local based group. (they have a lot to bring to the table).

RikcXavierBjurström
RikcXavierBjurström

@Lefty-G its not really about that though is it. It's more about the fact that their are always going to be bitter feeling towards Stern because he practically helped load the moving trucks for the Sonics to go to OKC and then pulled a lot of strings to help Sacramento stay. It really raises the ire of people here in Seatle.

Lefty-G
Lefty-G

Yeah, I get it. Unfortunately, the NBA will always do what it perceives to be in its best interest—they know they made a mistake with Seattle and don't want to repeat it, not for dollar reasons, but for PR reasons. Everyone knows Seattle's a great city, better than many NBA cities—they'll probably have team within three years. Sacramento's a great city too, though not as many people know it—fortunately, the NBA does, and they also know that filling the hole in Seattle will be much easier than filling the hole in Sacramento.