NBA Kings See Strong Support At First Home Game Since Seattle Group's Announcement
NBA Kings fans "targeted Saturday's game" against the Jazz to "put as many fans as possible inside Sleep Train Arena to let the NBA know the Kings are wanted and supported by the region," according to Jason Jones of the SACRAMENTO BEE. The game was "part of the 'Here We Buy' movement to keep the Kings in Sacramento." The game saw an announced crowd of 16,913, including Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. The final minutes of the game were "dominated by a 'Here We Stay!' chant, a 'Sacramento' chant and the wave" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/10). HereWeStay founding member James Ham said it was "a critical game" for the group because it was the team's first home game since the announcement of the Chris Hansen-Steve Ballmer group's purchase agreement. In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin wrote the game's atmosphere "offered a reminder: There aren't many places like Sacramento." Voisin: "Nineteen sellout seasons in 27 years. The only game in town." If the "money men" from the partnership between Penguins co-Owner Ron Burkle and 24 Hour Fitness co-Founder Mark Mastrov "come up with a viable plan to purchase the Kings ... then the NBA board of governors will have one whale of a decision to make." Voisin: "Abandon Sacramento after all these years? Drop-kick a onetime model franchise to its knees? ... I don't think so. I don't think the NBA can do that." This situation "is unprecedented," as there "is no script or case law to follow." Meanwhile, Johnson before Saturday's game said, "We're going to come with a fair and competitive offer before the March 1 deadline, but we want to take our time and get it right" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/10).
COUNTY LAW: In Sacramento, Tony Bizjak reported a lawsuit that could "derail" the Hansen-Ballmer group's plans to buy the Kings "has been set for a Feb. 22 hearing in King County Superior Court." The suit, brought by a Seattle longshoreman's union, "contends the arena financing agreement between local government officials and a potential team ownership group violates state environmental law." A win in court for the Hansen-Ballmer group would "clear at least one legal cloud for a Seattle arena and pave the way for a final environmental review" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/9).