The group looking to return the Seattle SuperSonics to the NBA are raising the stakes.
After a group of buyers led by Chris Hansen and Microsoft chairmen Steve Ballmer made a bid to buy and move the Sacramento Kings, a group from Sacramento was permitted to offer its own proposal.
Now the Seattle ownership group is upping its bid, reaching an agreement with the Maloof family to raise the purchase price of the Kings by $25 million. That would set the price for the team at an NBA-record $550 million.
In a statement on his website, Hanson wrote:
“The Seattle Ownership Group has elected to voluntarily raise its purchase price as a sign of our commitment to bring basketball back to our city and our high degree of confidence in our arena plan, our financing plan, the economic strength of the Seattle market, individual and corporate support for the team and, most importantly, the future of the NBA.”
A group led by Mayor Kevin Johnson is looking to keep the team in Sacrament, and came up with an arena financing plan and assembled an ownership group that can compete with Seattle’s proposal.
“Sacramento is playing to win, including having assembled a world class ownership group; voting to move forward on an arena and securing significant fan and corporate support,” Johnson wrote on Friday. “We know the NBA has never moved a team from a market that has performed and where a clear path to an arena has been demonstrated.
“Which is why as we head into the meetings in New York City next week we are following the process established by the NBA. That said, we of course are prepared to maintain the full court press we have applied over the last several months to make sure we leave it all on the court. For all of these reasons, we feel good about where we stand.”
The group looking to revive the Seattle SuperSonics entered an agreement with the Maloof family in January to buy the controlling interest of the franchise for $525 million. The NBA board of governors will vote in New York on Tuesday on the sale and relocation of the franchise.
There may not be a vote at all, however. NBA Commissioner David Stern has expressed hesitance at letting the process turn into a bidding war.
Whatever the result, one city of strong NBA supports will be left without a team. Seattle has been known as a good basketball city with devoted fans before the SuperSonics were pulled out from under them and moved to Oklahoma City. Though a small market, Sacramento is also a city that strongly supports its team, and had a long streak of sellouts in the early through mid-2000s.