The NBA Relocation Committee voted unanimously Monday to deny the Kings move from Sacramento to Seattle.
The NBA said its committee, which is composed of seven team owners, voted against the Maloof family’s proposed sale of the team to Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who lobbied to move the team to Seattle and build a new arena to host the team. Hansen has spent millions of dollars purchasing land in the SoDo district where a new arena was proposed to be built.
Monday night, Hansen issued a statement on his sonicsarena.com website. In part, it says:
“While we are disappointed with the relocation committee’s recommendation, we just wanted to let you all know that we remain fully committed to seeing this transaction through … we plan to unequivocally state our case for both relocation and our plan to move forward with the transaction to the league and owners at the upcoming Board of Governor’s Meeting in Mid-May … I just wanted to reassure all of you that we have numerous options at our disposal and have absolutely no plans to give up.”
Mayor Mike McGinn, issued a statement on the decision that said, “I’m proud of how Sonics fans have rallied together to help Seattle get a team. We’re going to stay focused on our job: making sure Seattle remains in a position to get a team when the opportunity presents itself.”
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson sent out a tweet applauding Kings’ fans, saying, “I’ve never been prouder of this city. I thank the ownership group, city leaders, but most of all the BEST FANS IN THE NBA!!!”
Johnson also tweeted, “I want to take my hat off to Seattle. You’re a great city, had a great proposal, unbelievable fans & no doubt deserve a time in the future.:
The full Board of Governors is not expected to vote on the Kings until May 13. However, the committee’s recommendation carries enough weight to be influential on any decision that is reached. Hansen and Ballmer would need to gather 23 or 30 owners’ votes to gain control of the Kings.
Sonics fans are hoping that the Board of Governors will announce on May 13 that the next expansion NBA team will be awarded to Seattle, but right now that’s only a hope.
Monday’s vote was announced after a two-hour conference call with committee members and capped months of what the Sacramento Bee newspaper called “unprecedented arm wrestling over the lowly Kings.”
In January, the Maloofs agreed to an offer by Hansen to purchase 65 percent of the team, and he had to up his initial offering of $341 million to $357 million in April after a counter offer by a group of Sacramento investors matched Hansen’s initial bid.
Seattle and Sacramento lobbied for the team and offered to build new, arenas to house the team. Seattle was hoping to bring back an NBA team after losing the Sonics to Oklahoma City in 2008 and touted itself as a more viable locale for the team due to its market size. Sacramento lobbied to keep the team and highlighted its hometown loyalty to the franchise as well as being a one-team town, the Bee reported.