Found January 22, 2013 on
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson had a stern warning for Seattle SuperSonics fans who are excited about the prospect of the NBA returning to the Puget Sound next season.
''Don't celebrate too early,'' he said.
In front of a cheering City Hall crowd filled with fans and public officials Tuesday, Johnson introduced the first part of his four-step plan to keep the Sacramento Kings in California's capital city.
The three-time NBA All-Star turned mayor unveiled 19 local investors who have pledged at least $1 million each to be part of a group that would buy the franchise. Johnson said the major partner he hopes will anchor the last-ditch deal to keep the Kings from moving to Seattle will be revealed as soon as this week.
''We've been here before,'' Johnson said. ''Our backs have been against the wall. They told us it wasn't going to happen. But each and every step along the way, as long as there is time on the clock, our community always finds a way to stand up for itself.''
Unlike the last two years, Sacramento is up against a group that already has signed agreements to acquire the Kings and build a new arena for the franchise.
The mayor's announcement came a day after the Maloof family announced a deal to sell the Kings to a Seattle group that includes investor Chris Hansen and Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer. The signed purchase agreement is still pending a vote by the NBA Board of Governors.
The group will buy 65 percent of the franchise, which has a total valuation of $525 million, and move the team to Seattle and restore the SuperSonics name, a person familiar with the decision has said. That means the group will pay a little more than $340 million.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal is waiting to be approved. Hansen's group also is hoping to buy out other minority investors.
The main stipulation Johnson is counting on is that the Maloofs are still allowed to receive other offers until the league approves the sale, which the mayor expects to take until at least April, when owners meet in New York. The deadline for teams to file for relocation for next season is March 1, though that has been extended the last two years for the Kings.
Johnson said he has spoken with more than one heavy-hitting investor to back the plan and produce a ''fair and competitive offer'' to the NBA. He also said prominent Sacramento-area lawyers have offered to work pro bono for the city's cause.
''I just say to the fans in Seattle: be cautiously optimistic. Be smart. But this isn't about our city against their city, or one mayor against another mayor,'' Johnson said. ''We have something that's ours and we want to keep it, and we're going to do everything we can to make Sacramento the final resting place of the Sacramento Kings.''
The final three phases of the mayor's ''Playing to Win'' plan are finding the major financer to compete with the Seattle group's offer, demonstrating the city's commitment to a new downtown arena and showing the strength of the Sacramento market. None of those crucial pieces have been announced.
Some of the 19 proposed minority investors, two of whom Johnson said chose to remain anonymous, stood next to the mayor and spoke about why they agreed to non-binding pledges.
The group includes developer David Taylor, who backed a plan to build a $391 million arena in downtown Sacramento before the deal collapsed last year; Phil Oates, a developer and the son of Sacramento-area real estate pioneer Marvin ''Buzz'' Oates; and Kevin Nagle, a business executive and co-owner of the Town Center who helped increase Sacramento sponsorship and season-ticket sales when the Kings explored a move to Anaheim two years ago.
''I'm doing this for one reason: it's time to fight,'' Oates said. ''Somebody wants something that I own. It's mine, and I'm not giving it up easily. I owe it to my kids. I owe to my grandchild that's going to be born in May and named after me. I owe it to my neighbors. I owe it to my friends. I owe it to (Sacramento) to fight and go down swinging.''
Johnson already has saved the Kings from relocation once.
The mayor made a pitch to the NBA Board of Governors and bought the city time to broker a deal that appeared to solve the team's arena woes. But brothers Joe, Gavin and George Maloof backed out of the tentative deal for a new downtown venue with Sacramento last April, saying it didn't make financial sense for the franchise.
Many of those who participated in that plan, from public officials to private investors, showed up at City Hall again to offer their vote - or checkbooks - one more time.
''The reason I'm committed to become a local member of the Kings' ownership is I really feel that we as a community need to get a return on all the hours and emotions that we spent trying to keep the team here,'' Taylor said. ''I think we're owed a return on our investment.''
Johnson maintains that Sacramento's biggest reason to be optimistic is that NBA Commissioner David Stern has granted him permission to address league owners and present a new ownership group and plan to keep the Kings.
The mayor commended Seattle's efforts to be an NBA city again, which includes Hansen reaching an agreement with local governments in Seattle last October on plans to build a $490 million NBA/NHL arena near the city's other stadiums, CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field. No construction will begin on that project - which also faces a pair of lawsuits - until all environmental reviews are completed and a team has been secured.
Seattle hoops fans have been reeling since Sonics owner Clay Bennett, ironically the chair of the NBA relocation committee now, moved the franchise to Oklahoma City in 2008.
''When I played in the NBA for 12 years, Seattle had some of the best fans in the NBA,'' Johnson said. ''No different than Sacramento. Incredible fans. And when they lost their team a couple years ago, it was devastating to me, because those fans fought like crazy and rallied and they cheered on the home team. And I strongly believe they deserve an NBA team at some point. Just not ours.''
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
We get that they are in the same state and have similar color schemes, but these L.A. Kings/Sacramento Kings mishaps are really starting to get bad. What you are looking at is the bottom line of a NESN broadcast in which they report that the “L.A. Kings owners agree to sell team to Seattle”.
Although there are probably a lot of people in Seattle who would be delighted to have...
On a practical level, there is really no problem with the NBA allowing the sale of the Sacramento Kings to an ownership group that will move the team to Seattle as soon as next season. The “new” Sonics would restore the NBA’s footprint in the largest U.S. media market without a professional basketball franchise and puts the organization in the hands of competent owners with...
Sacramento Kings fans are naturally disappointed after hearing the news that the team is being sold to a group of investors that will move the team to Seattle.
To express their feelings, the Bubblegum Bandits borrow the melody from Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend" to convince the team to stay in Sacramento. The result is "Hey Kings, Stay Kings", and aside...
Following Sunday night’s reports of the Maloofs proposed sale of the Kings to Seattle’s Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, both the NBA and Chris Hansen released statements Monday morning:
“The NBA received an executed Purchase and Sale Agreement for the transfer of a controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings from the Maloof family to an investor group led by Christopher...
I do not pretend to understand all the technical jargon of selling or relocating an NBA team, but from where I am sitting, it seems like the Sacramento Kings’ move to Seattle is going to happen.
The Maloof family has agreed to sell their majority ownership to a Seattle group led by Chris Hansen, who I recently found out is actually NOT the “To Catch a Predator” guy (just...
Interesting story evolving out of the Kings/Sonics melodrama today. As I'm sure most of you have heard by now, the Kings are reportedly leaving Sacramento for Seattle after their impending sale. The city of Seattle owns the naming rights to the 'Sonics', so after a five year hiatus - the Sonics of Payton, Kemp and my main man Detlef Schrempf are returning.
The only thing stopping the Sacramento Kings from a sale and move to Seattle is approval by NBA owners.
The Maloof family has agreed to sell the Kings to a Seattle group led by investor Chris Hansen, two people familiar with the decision said Sunday night. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal is still pending approval from the NBA Board...
The Sonics are back — almost.
Seattle took a major step toward securing a new NBA team when the Maloof family finalized a deal Sunday to sell the Sacramento Kings. The new ownership group, led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, reportedly plans to move the team to Seattle and rename it the SuperSonics at the end of this season.
The move has hit...
Monday was a tough day for Sacramento Kings fans, a great day for Seattle Supersonics fans and probably mixed for most others.
The Maloof family and a Seattle based group led by Chris Hansen announced a deal was in place for the Seattle group to buy the majority share of the Kings from the Maloofs and one minority owner for 65 percent of the $525 million the franchised was valued...
Billionaire and owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, Ron Burkle, and founder of the 24 Hour Fitness chain, Mark Mastrov, are serious candidates to keep the Kings in Sacramento.
According to Ryan Lillis, The Sacramento Bee:
Billionaire Ron Burkle and Bay Area investor Mark Mastrov are in serious discussions to team up on a bid to buy the Sacramento Kings and partner with the...
Seattle Fans might want to settle their ruffles, some pretty rich investors might be putting a halt to your new NBA team.
According to The Sacramento Bee, Billionaire Ron Burkle and Bay Area investor Mark Mastrov are in serious discussions to keep the Sacramento Kings right where they are, not only are they wanting to buy the team, they duo also plan to partner with the city...
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Luis Scola scored 21 points and the Phoenix Suns won their first game under new coach Lindsey Hunter, beating the Sacramento Kings 106-96 on Wednesday night.
The Suns, tied with New Orleans for the worst record in the Western Conference at 14-28, outplayed the Kings in the second half, quieting a Sacramento crowd that was watching the Kings for the first...