The Kings are staying in Sacramento.
The NBA Board of Governors voted 22-8 Wednesday in Dallas to keep the Kings in Sacramento and prevent an investment group led by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and hedge fund manager Chris Hansen from bringing the team to Seattle.
“This was not an anti-Seattle vote,” NBA commissioner David Stern said. “It was a pro-Sacramento vote.”
The Seattle group 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 even upped that original bid for a third time last week at an incredible $625 valuation for the Kings.
But Sacramento, led by mayor and former NBA point guard Kevin Johnson, fought back with a new arena plan and an investment group of its own, as this whole thing turned somewhat into a Seattle vs. Silicon Valley investor showdown.
Today’s news confirms what was, for the most part, expected. It appeared that Seattle’s attempt to bring the NBA back was over a few weeks ago when the NBA relocation committee unanimously voted to block Seattle’s bid to buy the Kings and bring them to Emerald City.
But this officially ends the effort to bring the NBA back to Seattle this fall. It’s been five years since the Sonics left Seattle and were relocated to Oklahoma City.
Hansen posted a short statement on sonicsarena.com, thanking supporters in Seattle.
“Our day will come … and when it does it will just be that much sweeter for the struggle,” he wrote.
Ownership of the Kings is still up in the air and could be decided in a few days, Stern said. The Maloofs can either keep the team or sell it to the Sacramento group, as the Seattle offer is now off the table.
Hansen wrote that he was looking forward to “hearing back on our agreement to join the Maloofs as Limited Partners in the Kings.” Talks of a limited partnership, which would require the Maloofs to retain the team, surfaced a few days ago and would need to be approved by the NBA.
There’s been rumors of league expansion, with the NBA potentially adding another team. Stern said there was only “generalized” talk to consider expansion during the past few weeks, but not until next TV deals expire after 2015-16 season.
“We’ve never wavered in our desire to return to the Seattle market at some point.” added Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, who will take over for Stern next Februrary. “We fully expect to return there some day.”
For what it’s worth, Stern opened with a bit of a cheap shot at Seattle, saying that “this will be quick. I have a game to get to in Oklahoma City.”
wow – David Stern gives us the news and then states he has to run so he can make the OKC game. Maybe just a tad insensitive?
— Detlef Schrempf (@Dschrempf) May 15, 2013
Stern could only promise this to Seattle: “Fair dealing and consideration down the road.” He praised Hansen and Ballmer for their efforts and collaboration.
“Chris Hansen did everything he could do, plus more. And Steve Ballmer couldn’t have been more supportive,” Stern said. “We anticipate a continued relationship with Hansen and Ballmer for some time.”
It appears Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and owner of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, voted in favor of Seattle.
Peter McLoughlin, Seahawks CEO says Allen votes for the relocation.
— Chris Daniels (@ChrisDaniels5) May 15, 2013
Feeling for Seattle basketball fans today, would have been great to have a #NBA team once again
— Paul Allen (@PaulGAllen) May 15, 2013
Between the money the Seattle group was putting up, support from government and a strong arena plan, Ballmer was quoted last month as saying there may never be a better opportunity to get pro hoops back in this city.
Bringing the NBA back to Seattle is something Ballmer deeply cares about. Reports came out in June that Ballmer was part of the investment group led by Hansen. It’s not surprising: Ballmer was a regular at Sonics games before the team departed for Oklahoma City in 2008 and also was part of another investment group that tried to keep the team here.
Mayor Mike McGinn tweeted that he “shared disappointment of Sonics fans about today’s vote, but we are in this for the long haul.” He also said that since the MOU the city has with Hansen for the arena plan is for five years, “we will continue working to bring the NBA back to Seattle.”
UPDATE, 5:12 P.M. — Hansen’s statement was added to this story