The NBA Board of Governors has reportedly voted to block the sale of the Sacramento Kings to a Seattle-based ownership group spearheaded by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, per USA Today NBA insider Sam Amick:
UPDATE: Wednesday, May 15, at 9:20 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
Kings co-owner George Maloof had to hide in a closet to avoid the media after the NBA Board of Governors voted to keep the Kings in Sacramento on Wednesday.
Ron Klint supplied one picture of the scene via Twitter:
The Crown Downtown group offered a different view of the same scene:
---End of update---
UPDATE: Wednesday, May 15, at 8:57 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
The NBA's Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver offered some optimistic words to Seattle sports fan (via CBS Sports' Zach Harper):
We never wavered in our desire to return to the Seattle market at some point. Expansion was discussed at least as a possibility down the road. We want to wait and see what happens with our next national television negotiation. We're very appreciative of the fans in Seattle as we always were. We regret having to leave the market the last time and we fully expect we'll return there one day.
That should make Chris Hansen happy as he released this statement on sonicsarena.com following the NBA's announcement:
While we are obviously extremely disappointed with today’s relocation vote and truly believe we put forth both a significantly better offer and Arena plan, we do thank the league and the owners for their time and consideration and look forward to hearing back on our agreement to join the Maloofs as Limited Partners in the Kings.
But most of all I would like to thank everyone in Seattle who has been a part of our effort and supported our cause. Words simply can’t express how much your support has meant to me personally and to our City. I truly believe we did everything possible to put our best foot forward in this process and you all should be proud and hold your heads high today.
Our day will come...and when it does it will just be that much sweeter for the struggle.
I love you Seattle!
---End of update---
Hansen and Ballmer had planned to purchase a majority share of the franchise for a reported $365 million (h/t Brian Windhorst of ESPN), relocate the team to Seattle as early as the 2013-14 season and rebrand it as the SuperSonics.
However, on April 29, the NBA’s relocation committee reached a unanimous decision to recommend to the league that the City of Sacramento retain the Kings.
Despite that decision, the Hansen and Ballmer group tried to up the ante, increasing its offer to $409 million. They also offered a "fee payout" of $4 million per owner as compensation for relocation.
That surprising verdict indicated the direction the owners were leaning toward leading up to the official vote on Wednesday.
This result is the culmination of three years of fighting by Sacramento Mayor and former NBA star Kevin Johnson, who worked relentlessly to secure funds and investors for a new arena and everything else required to keep the Kings in Northern California.
An ownership group led by Bay Area software tycoon Vivek Ranadive has worked out a backup agreement with the NBA league office to purchase a 65 percent controlling share of the organization for $341 million (h/t Windhorst).
After more than five years of mismanagement and poor ownership decisions from the financially struggling Maloof family, the future is looking bright for the Kings.
There is hope that Sacramento will no longer be at or close to the bottom of the league in both record and attendance, as the new owners should be fully committed to rebuilding a winning franchise as quickly as possible.
Speaking of building, a new arena seems to be in the cards, and sketches are already popping up of the proposed structure in Downtown Plaza.
There is still a long way to go before the Kings return to prominence, but having the Board of Governors vote to keep the team in Sacramento for the foreseeable future is a huge step in the right direction.