A move to Seattle now awaits the Sacramento Kings, with a sale of the NBA franchise just needing league approval.
The Maloof family has come to an agreement to sell the Kings to a Seattle group led by investor Chris Hansen, the NBA said in a statement Monday. Citing a person familiar with the decision, the Associated Press reported that Hansen’s group will purchase a 65% stake in a sale that values the Kings at a NBA-record $525 million. The new ownership group is expected to move the team to Seattle, perhaps as soon as next season, bringing the SuperSonics back to the NBA.
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The investment group is expected to contribute $290 million in private investment toward the arena and transportation improvements in the area of the Seattle venues. The rest, $200 million in public financing, would be paid back using the proceeds from rent money and admissions taxes from the arena.
The sale is comprised of the Maloof family’s 53% share, as well as minority owner Bob Hernreich’s 12% ownership. The Seattle-based investor group, which also includes Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) chief executive Steve Ballmer and two members of the Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) department store family, hopes to buy out the Kings’ other minority owners. Hansen, a Seattle native who invested in a project to build a new arena near the city’s other sports venues, is the founder of San Francisco-based Valiant Capital Management.
Yahoo! Sports reported that the franchise will move to Seattle and play in the SuperSonics’ previous home, KeyArena, for the next two seasons before moving to the new facility, which will also be built to house a future NHL franchise. Any team hoping to relocate for next season must apply by March 1.
Both Hansen and the Maloof family confirmed the agreement in separate statements.
“Our negotiations with the (Maloof) family were handled with the utmost honor and professionalism and we hope to continue their legacy and be great stewards of this NBA franchise in the coming years and decades," Hansen said.
Hansen said terms of the deal were confidential.
“We have always appreciated and treasured our ownership of the Kings and have had a great admiration for the fans and our team members,” said Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof. “We would also like to thank Chris Hansen for his professionalism during our negotiation. Chris will be a great steward for the franchise.”
Meanwhile, the Kings can listen to other offers until the NBA Board of Governors votes on the current deal. Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, a former All-Star point guard, said last week that NBA commissioner David Stern will allow him to present a counteroffer on behalf of buyers who would keep the franchise in California’s capital.
"Sacramento has proven that it is a strong NBA market with a fan base that year in and year out has demonstrated a commitment to the Kings by selling out 19 of 27 seasons in a top 20 market and owning two of the longest sellout streaks in NBA history," Johnson said.
Johnson, in hopes of keeping the team in Sacramento, told league owners the city would work to finance a new arena. But negotiations between the Maloofs and the city broke down last year.
The Maloofs reportedly considered Anaheim, Calif., as an eventual destination, while Las Vegas and Virginia Beach were also understood to be talking with the Kings.
Seattle is currently one of the largest U.S. markets without an NBA team. The Seattle SuperSonics moved from the Puget Sound to Oklahoma City in 2008.