Another California tech titan is joining the group trying to keep an NBA team in Sacramento and away from Seattle.
Chris Kelly, who was Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer from 2005-2010, is joining the partnership hoping to buy the Sacramento Kings and block Seattle’s bid to bring the Supersonics back to the Emerald City.
The Sacramento group already includes a pretty impressive list: TIBCO CEO Vivek Ranadive, Sacramento developer Mark Friedman, founder of 24 Hour Fitness Mark Mastrov and members of San Diego’s Jacobs family, who run Qualcomm.
Ryan Lills of the Sacramento Bee tweeted that Kelly has been in talks with the group for two months.
And source says Kelly’s name was brought up during meeting with #NBA last week in New York. Kelly’s involvement in bid not last-minute
— Ryan Lillis (@Ryan_Lillis) April 12, 2013
And from Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, who has been instrumental in the charge to keep the Kings in his city:
— Kevin Johnson (@KJ_MayorJohnson) April 12, 2013
The Sacramento group is hoping to convince NBA owners to block a bid from a Seattle investment group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Hansen and Ballmer reached an agreement with the Maloof family (current owners) in January to buy 65 percent of the Kings for a reported $341 million. The group has already put down a $30 million non-refundable deposit and has requested for the team to play at KeyArena for two seasons before moving into the new SoDo arena in 2015.
Everyone will reconvene in front of the full NBA Board of Governors at its annual meeting April 18-19 when the official vote happens. That’s when we’ll know if the NBA is coming back to Seattle or not, though there have been rumors that the decision could be delayed.
So yes, the next week or so is about to get real hectic in this saga. Earlier today, a King County judge dismissed the Initiative 91 suit on the new Seattle arena — good news for the Seattle investment group. That suit claimed that $490 arena proposal violated I-91, which states that Seattle must make a profit on any investment in a sports facility.
King County Executive Dow Constantine tweeted this:
This ruling is yet another in a long line of affirmations that the city & county are doing things right to bring the Sonics home#SonicsArena
— Dow Constantine (@kcexec) April 12, 2013
The Maloof family has reportedly set a deadline for 5 p.m. today for the Sacramento group to match the Seattle bid. No word on if the NBA is also setting that deadline.
Previously on GeekWire: Sonics Update: Steve Ballmer offers ‘characteristically enthusiastic’ presentation to NBA owners