The NBA denied a proposal to move the Sacramento Kings to Seattle Wednesday.
Commissioner David Stern made the announcement that the league had put an end to a deal to sell the team to a group of Seattle investors. The vote to keep the team in Sacramento followed a recommendation made by the league’s relocation committee last month, ending a nearly three-year bid.
“It’s nice to see two great cities so interested in an NBA franchise, but the winner here is Sacramento,” Stern said at a news conference in Dallas.
The Maloof family, which owns a controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings, wanted to sell the team to a group led by investor Chris Hansen. Hansen was hoping to move the franchise to Seattle and rename the team the SuperSonics. The original SuperSonics were moved from Oklahoma City in 2008 after 41 years in Seattle and renamed the Thunder, which shares its predecessor’s franchise history. Seattle has not had an NBA team since it lost the Sonics.
The Oklahoma City Thunder went on to make the playoffs in four seasons in row, making it to the Western Conference Finals in 2011, and losing to the Miami Heat in the finals last year.
The proposal faced opposition from Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who played in the NBA from 1987 to 2000. Johnson launched a campaign to keep the team in the state capital of California. Johnson was backed by an ownership group led by TIBCO software chairman Vivek Ranadive, and included 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, former Facebook senior executive Chris Kelly, and the Jacobs family, who own Qualcomm.
Stern urged the Maloof family to reach a deal to sell the team to Johnson’s group, saying, “It is my expectation that we will be able to reach a deal with the Maloofs.”
The Maloofs reached an agreement to sell a 65 percent controlling interest in the team to Hansen’s group in January for $525 million, which topped the previous record of $450 million from Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, who purchased the Golden State Warriors in 2010.
Hansen increased his offer to $550 million, then to $625 million as he and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made a last ditch attempt to persuade the NBA Board of Governors. That amount included $406 million for the Maloofs’ controlling interest, as well as a $115 million relocation fee that was nearly quadruple what Clay Bennet paid to move the Sonics to Oklahoma City.
Chris Hansen spent almost two years getting an arena plan approved by city and county governments. He spent more than $65 millions buying land in the SoDo neighborhood of Seattle, where the Sonics’ arena would be built.
Do you think the NBA made the right choice keeping the Kings in Sacramento?