The Sacramento Kings basketball team cannot move to Seattle, the National Basketball Association board has decided.
The board voted 22-8 against allowing the move, said NBA Commissioner David Stern.
In the next two days, representatives of the NBA will meet with the Maloof family that currently owns the team to see whether they will sell to new owners in Sacramento, said Stern.
The Maloofs had agreed to sell the team to a group in Seattle led by hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
After the agreement was announced, a group led by TIBCO CEO Vivek Ranadivé made a counteroffer. Ranadive’s bid is $65 million less than the $406 million offered by Hansen’s group, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Ranadivé currently owns the Golden State Warriors of Oakland.
Stern said “nobody could have guessed” how quickly Ranadivé and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson would put together a proposal for a new arena and ownership.
“It’s my expectation that we will be able to make a deal with the Maloofs and the Ranadivé group to transfer title,” said Stern.
The Seattle offer was a good one, but when Sacramento matched it the advantage went to the incumbent, Stern said.
“The Seattle presentation was brisk, firm, excellent and reflects the efforts that have been put into this,” said Stern. “At the conclusion, though, the committee voted and recommended to the board, and it was adopted, that if the Sacramento community could produce a site, a financially strong ownership group, and the kind of support by the region that the mayor has galvanized, that the appropriate response was to keep the team in Sacramento. And that’s what we did.”
Stern said the NBA will continue talking to people in Seattle who want an NBA team, but without a solid idea of how that might happen.
Meeting with reporters after the announcement, George Maloof said he was “willing to work with anyone” on selling the team and had already spoken to the Ranadivé group.
He had tried to sell the team to Sacramento owners before reaching the deal with the Hansen group but couldn’t find buyers, Maloof said.
But it’s also possible that the Maloofs will not sell the team at all, he said. “It’s a possibility.”
He said he would also meet with Hansen about reaching a new deal.
Much remains to be determined about the Kings’ fate, the Bee reports:
Back in Sacramento, opponents of the city’s plan to subsidize an arena filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court. Attorneys Jeffrey Anderson and Patrick Soluri allege the city has broken the law on several fronts in its $448 million downtown arena plan.
The suit contends the city undervalued the size of the subsidy it is providing developers under the tentative deal to build a facility in Downtown Plaza. The city has said it has agreed to place public assets valued at $258 million into the deal, but the plaintiffs contend the investors are actually receiving $338 million to help them afford a purchase of the Kings.