Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson yesterday said that he "hopes to meet with league owners a few weeks earlier" than the NBA's BOG meeting to "state his city's case for keeping" the NBA Kings, according to Bob Condotta of the SEATTLE TIMES. The NBA BOG is "not expected to vote on a sale of" the Kings to a Seattle group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer until mid-April. Johnson said, "I know there will be an end-of-March, early-April opportunity to go out and present to NBA owners." Johnson indicated that he "did not expect the NBA to give him any signal of approval at that time." Johnson, noting the BOG meeting, said, "Certainly, the final verdict will be April 18-19" (SEATTLE TIMES, 3/6). In Sacramento, Kasler, Lillis & Bizjak note the Think Big Sacramento task force trying to keep the Kings in town "revved up its publicity machine" yesterday by unveiling a "report arguing that Sacramento is a better NBA market than Seattle." Johnson's task force "rolled out a collection of statistics making the case that Sacramento offers the team a better TV and radio market with broader fan support." Seattle is "bigger and has a stronger corporate base." But Seattle would have to "split that support among four teams, including the relocated Kings." Sacramento "gives the NBA a monopoly." Task force leader Kunal Merchant said that "by that reckoning, Sacramento is actually a stronger broadcast market, with more TV households per team, and a stronger corporate base." Merchant said, "That 100 percent market share is a huge advantage." Sacramento City Manager John Shirey yesterday said that he "intends to bring a financing term sheet for a new downtown sports arena to the City Council for a vote at the council's March 26 meeting" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/6).
THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD: Also in Sacramento, Marcos Breton notes Johnson has been "able to change the conversation about a Kings relocation that was described as a 'done deal' in the national press just six weeks ago by producing billionaire suitors who are willing to buy the team and keep them here." The presence of the ownership group led by 24 Hour Fitness co-Founder Mark Mastrov and Penguins co-Owner Ron Burkle "and their big wallets not only creates a viable scenario for local ownership, it allows Sacramento to illustrate how this situation is different from other NBA relocations." Breton: "Does Sacramento have Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks or Nordstrom within its borders? No. Seattle is a great city with wealth Sacramento doesn't have." But if the NBA "votes with Seattle even if Sacramento's bid for the Kings is equal or close to the Emerald City's, the decision would feel less like a relocation and more like a hostile takeover" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/6). CBSSPORTS.com's Ken Berger cited a source as saying that a relocation "fee of as much as" $75M has been mentioned internally among NBA owners. That would "change the game, and not necessarily in Sacramento's favor." The bigger the relocation fee, the "better the Sacramento deal would look to" Kings Owner the Maloof family. But, the "better the Seattle deal would look to the other 29 owners, who would share the relocation fee" (CBSSPORTS.com, 3/3).