With the NBA Board of Governers rejected the Sacramento Kings relocation bid, USSDU takes a look at what happened and what the next step is.[caption id="attachment_16026" align="aligncenter" width="620"] Photo Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports[/caption] Thursday morning the NBA Board of Governors voted on the issue of the Sacramento Kings relocation to Seattle and the verdict was a 22-8 result, rejecting the relocation. This was not a surprising result but this Sacramento-Seattle saga will keep on going until the team is finally sold and the NBA can move on. The resulting press conference with David Stern and Adam Silver can be read here and there are some very interesting comments in there regarding a possible future expansion.
The IssueThe current owners of the Sacramento Kings (the Maloof family) have been in financial trouble for quite some time now and have been looking at potential suitors for a sale. One group of Seattle based investors headed up by Chris Hansen (Venture Capitalist) and Steve Ballmer (Microsoft CEO) have been trying to attract an NBA team to Seattle to play in their proposed arena development. After receiving Seattle council approval for building a new arena next to the stadium for the Seattle Mariners, Chris Hansen agreed with the Maloof's to purchase 65% of the team at a record valuation of $525mil. The only thing stopping this sale was the NBA Board of Governors, that vote on every relocation proposal in the NBA. The board ironically is headed by the infamous Clay Bennett (owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the one who moved the Supersonics from Seattle in 2008 not long after promising not to relocate). Sacramento Mayor, Kevin Johnson, has been trying to gather a group of investors from the Sacramento area to also bid for the franchise and was successful in luring Vivek Ranadive (wealthy businessman and co-owner of the Golden State Warriors) and Mark Friedman (Sacramento based property developer). They have matched the bid for the Kings franchise and have also proposed a new city based arena to be built in down town Sacramento. So we have two different groups bidding for the same team but with different objectives. Today's vote was only the tip of a messy iceberg that will crash into something in the next three months.
The VoteToday's meeting was not to determine the sale of the Kings to anyone but to vote on whether a relocation to Seattle was going to be allowed. The process involved the owners of all 30 teams placing their vote after a presentation by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer. In order to be successful they needed 75% of the vote to go their way and obviously this didn't happen with a 22-8 vote rejecting the relocation. The Seattle group had promised to up the relocation fee to $120mil ($4mil/team) and even increased their valuation of the team to $625mil but this wasn't enough to sway the vote. It should be noted that the Sacramento based bid group have promised to forgo the revenue sharing plan that helps out the smaller market teams and this may have been an influence in some team owners vote.
What Now?A brief history of the dysfunctional Maloof's can be viewed here but in short they are looking to sell the Kings, and their preference has always been the Seattle based group. Today's vote has presented a big problem to the Maloof's as the Hansen led group will not purchase the team without the guarantee that they can move it to Seattle straight away. It gets even trickier from here as the Maloof's aren't actually forced to sell to the Sacramento bid and have stated all along that they have had no dealings with the Ranadive group and have no inclination to. Chris Hansen had offered to purchase a 20% share of the Kings as a backup plan but I'm not sure what effect this will have on the NBA given the team has been denied relocation to Seattle. It would also not be wise for Hansen to purchase a minor share of a team given his dream of the NBA returning to Seattle. In the press conference linked at the start of the article there were some very interesting comments on a possible expansion once the existing TV deal is expired (end of the 2015/16 season). David Stern and the NBA value the Seattle market quite a lot and it's good business to have a team there, especially given a billionaire investor group that has a solid business plan and a new arena deal in place. Plus I'm sure the way things went down in 2008 with the Supersonics relocation that Stern would like to see this righted before retiring as NBA Commissioner. Stern said he would meet with the Maloof family soon and I would bet that he will use all of his power and influence on them to get them to accept the Sacramento bid. Unfortunately this saga is far from over so we must wait with baited breath over the future of the Sacramento Kings. While it is disappointing that Seattle won't be getting an NBA team in the near future, it is good news that Sacramento get to keep theirs with a possible new ownership group and new investment. If the Maloof's don't end up selling then they could end up being the big losers in all this mess.
What are your thoughts on this ongoing saga? Should the NBA have voted in favour of relocation? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.