The Sacramento Kings' potential relocation to Seattle is a hot issue, with new developments seemingly emerging on an hourly basis. Today has been no different, and the most recent revelations are positive for Sacramento. That's because Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson is on the scene, relentlessly working to keep the team in the state capital.
According to Ryan Lillis of The Sacramento Bee, one of those developments is that NBA commissioner David Stern has given Johnson the go-ahead to give a counter offer for the Sacramento Kings.
Mayor: #NBA Commissioner Stern has given him approval to make counter offer to Hansen group before league board of governors— Ryan Lillis (@Ryan_Lillis) January 15, 2013
According to Crown Downtown, Johnson will be allowed an opportunity to present Sacramento's case at the NBA's Board of Governor meetings. This is key to note because when the Kings were readying for a move to Anaheim, California in 2011, Commissioner Stern gave him an opportunity to address the Board of Governors—with Johnson convincing the league's relocation committee to give the city another year to hash out an agreement on an arena.
— Crown Downtown (@CrownDowntown) January 15, 2013
Assuming Johnson can find an ownership group with enough financial backing to buy the team, and convince the NBA's Board of Governors to prevent the team from relocating, part of the stipulation would be the approval of a new arena, according to Ryan Lillis.
Mayor: ownership change for #NBAKings must include new arena, have local partners
— Ryan Lillis (@Ryan_Lillis) January 15, 2013
But AEG, the entertainment company that was supposed to be a partner on last year's arena project that fell through, says it's still interested in partnering with the city on a future arena project, according to Tony Bizjak of The Sacramento Bee. Furthermore, AEG would be interested in working with the Maloofs if they somehow keep the team, or with a new ownership group that keeps the team in Sacramento.
"We remain committed to the mayor and the city, and we would be more than happy to meet with a potential new owner," an AEG spokesman said.
It's hard to envision a local ownership group winning a bidding war with Seattle billionaire Chris Hansen. The thing is, they don't have to outbid Hansen. As Aaron Bruski of Pro Basketball Talk points out, the cost of keeping the team in Sacramento would be much less than the cost of moving it, meaning potential owners from Sacramento could get the team for less.
Indeed, as reported here numerous times, Hansen would have to drastically overpay in order to outdo the Sacramento ownership groups, because Sac owners don’t have to account for a relocation fee, a city loan back to Sacramento, and the hard costs of moving. Sources say that this will total a minimum of $125 million, and should the NBA decide they want to levy a higher relocation fee to even out the playing field that number could increase.
This means that if the Maloofs sell to Hansen for $500 million, that in reality they are getting much, much less. In Sacramento, this means that it’s time for their local buyers to step up with their offers, and make the same effort the city made in the spring of 2011 when the Maloofs had most believing the team would move to Anaheim.
Also worth noting, Kings television broadcaster Grant Napear tweeted that a new ownership group is emerging.
New Kings ownership group will be announced shortly...may not be the only one.This thing isn't over by a long shot!
— Grant Napear(@GrantNapearshow) January 15, 2013
When asked to clarify whether it was a new group in the mix, Napear affirmed it, saying, "New group in the mix."
Between new ownership groups, further clarification about the arena project, and the NBA's willingness to allow Mayor Johnson to counter any offers and speak at the Board of Governors meetings, as Napear said, "This thing isn't over by a long shot."
Every other region may have got the memo saying the relocation was a done deal; the Sacramento area never did. All we can do is stay positive. After all, there's no reason not to. This team was supposed to be going to Anaheim two years ago, but it's still in Sacramento.
So until it's officially gone to Seattle, there's no reason to believe it will be playing anywhere other than Sacramento next season...with new and better owners, and a state-of-the-art arena soon to follow.