NBA Kings File For Permission To Relocate To Seattle; Sacramento Leaders Undeterred
NBA Commissioner David Stern yesterday said that the Kings have "formally filed for permission to relocate to Seattle," according to Lillis, Kasler & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Stern's announcement marks the "first official confirmation" that the Seattle-based group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer intends to "have the team play in Seattle next fall." Stern called the Seattle group "very strong." The league's BOG will "have final say on the sale and relocation in mid-April." A source said that Kings Owner the Maloof family "filed the petition sometime in the past week on behalf" of the Seattle group. If there was "any surprise to the move, it was its timing." Sacramento officials have said that they thought the Seattle group "might wait until closer to the league's March 1 deadline before filing for relocation." Stern said that the "level of support for the Kings in Sacramento and the likelihood that either city would be able to build a new arena" will be factors in the NBA's decision. Stern: "I don't think it's a bidding war." Buzz Oates real estate company Chair Phil Oates, one of 25 area business execs to pledge at least $1M each in an effort to buy the Kings, said, "Doesn't shake me at all." Sacramento City Council member Steve Cohn said, "I don't think it changes anything in terms of Sacramento's approach, which is to offer the NBA a competing vision of what can happen here in Sacramento with the Kings if they stay. The ball is directly in our court at this point" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/7). Stern said the relocation proposal calls for the team to play in KeyArena for "two years, possibly three" (AP, 2/6).
DECISION BY COMMITTEE: SPORTSPRESSNW.com reported Stern "in an unusual twist" has combined the NBA's Sale Approval and Relocation Committees into a single committee. The new committee will "prepare a single report" on the Seattle group's petition to relocate the Kings. Stern said, "I did the sensible thing: I combined the committees and said, ‘You guys figure it out.’ We’ll see how that works" (SPORTSPRESSNW.com, 2/6). Meanwhile, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson on Tuesday announced that the city has "hired arena financing consultant Dan Barrett." In Sacramento, Kelly Johnson noted Barrett "helped Sacramento on its previous arena efforts." Johnson said, "This deal is moving very quickly. We don't want to be caught flat-footed on this" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 2/5).