SBD/April 17, 2013/Franchises

NBA Owners Need More Time To Decide Kings' Fate; Will Not Vote This Week

Sacramento's bid to keep the Kings may not match the exact dollar amount of Seattle's
Just after Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson yesterday announced that a "local investor group was finally ready to present its formal bid to buy" the Kings, NBA officials "revealed they have scrubbed plans to vote this week on a competing offer to move the team to Seattle," according to a front-page piece by Lillis, Kasler & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. NBA Commissioner David Stern two weeks ago said that a postponement was "possible due to what he called the complicated and unprecedented situation the league faces." League officials said that a "select group of about a dozen team owners will meet today in New York ... to review the two proposals." Those owners "will recommend a winner" to the full 30-member BOG. Johnson yesterday "implied that the dollar amount of Sacramento's bid would not match Seattle's newly sweetened offer." He "declined to describe Sacramento's bid but said he believes the NBA and the Maloof family will be comfortable with it." The Seattle group "upped the ante last week, announcing it was increasing its offer" from $525M to $550M. The Seattle bid group yesterday also announced that it had "signed a deal to upgrade that city's existing KeyArena ... for the team to play in next year" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/17).

BIDING TIME: Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said that the NBA was "looking to 'tee up' the decision with its discussion this week" and that Stern "was in the 'same place' he was after a meeting" with reps of each city in N.Y two weeks ago. In Seattle, Bob Condotta in a front-page piece notes the news of a delay appeared to catch Johnson "off-guard" during his news conference. A source said that it is "thought the Sacramento offer did not include the increase," nor did it include a $30M nonrefundable deposit made by the Seattle group to Kings Owner the Maloof family. Meanwhile, if hedge fund manager Chris Hansen's plans to improve KeyArena are approved by the Seattle City Council, Hansen's ArenaCo firm will assume operations of the venue in July '13 "through the duration of NBA basketball being played at the facility." Hansen’s group will "guarantee Seattle" at least $2M in rent annually. An additional $750,000 would be "paid to the city annually" if an NHL team is brought to KeyArena. The rent is "for two years, with a third-year option." Under the deal, Hansen has the "option of selling the naming rights to KeyArena." KeyBank’s naming-rights deal "expired in 2010, but Seattle Center kept the name for continuity" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/17).

ON THE ROAD AGAIN? In Seattle, Jerry Brewer writes the NBA has "relocated so many franchises throughout its history that the league's logo should be modified to show Jerry West dribbling atop a moving van." This "isn't about playing the loyalty card." It also is "not about redemption." And it is "definitely not about Seattle 'asking for a mulligan.'" Seattle has a "superior, more polished" $490M arena plan and an ownership group "with deeper pockets." Sacramento has a "passionate mayor and passionate fans so desperate to keep the Kings that they've nearly done the impossible given less than 90 days, but its pitch is full of faith and loyalty and uncrossed T's instead of binding agreements and legal documents." It is a "simple decision, owners, unless you make it difficult" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/17).
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