On Monday, the investment group seeking to purchase the Sacramento Kings and relocate the franchise to Seattle suffered a setback when the NBA finance and relocation committee recommended that owners reject the proposal. Nonetheless, the Seattle group, led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, said on his site, www.sonicsarena.com, that the contingent plans to move forward with their bid.
“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,” said Hansen on www.sonicsarena.com. “As you are all well aware, we have a binding transaction to purchase the Kings for what would be a record price for an NBA franchise, have one of the best ownership groups ever assembled to purchase a professional sports team in the US, have clearly demonstrated that we have a much more solid Arena plan, have offered a much higher price than the yet to be finalized Sacramento Group, and have placed all of the funds to close the transaction into escrow.
“As such, 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.”
A final vote by NBA owners will take place on May 13, but the recommendation given by the finance and relocation committee could be the telltale sign that the Kings will remain in Sacramento. The Seattle investment group agreed to purchase a majority stake in the Kings from owners, the Maloof family, for a record-setting $550 million.
Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson leads an investment group seeking to keep the Kings in California’s capital city with a purported bid that is close to the Seattle group’s offer. More importantly, their opposing plan includes a new arena in downtown Sacramento that features $258 million in public financing—a key selling point that the finance and relocation committee considered in the proposal—the less of a financial burden placed on NBA owners, the better.
Despite the latest developments, Hansen remained positive as the final vote rests in the hands of the NBA owners in mid-May.
“When we started this process everyone thought it was impossible,” said Hansen. “While this represents yet another obstacle to achieving our goal, I just wanted to reassure all of you that we have numerous options at our disposal and have absolutely no plans to give up. Impossible is nothing but a state of mind.”
Hansen ended his message with an inspirational quote from legendary boxer Muhammad Ali on overcoming impossibilities. Still, the news of the recommendation had to sting like a bee.