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Sacramento, Seattle groups present to NBA owners
NEW YORK (AP) - The future home of the Kings may not be settled this month after all.
“We’ve never had a situation like this,” Stern said.
“And the seriousness of purpose to me is really incredible, because (owners) know that there’s a lot at stake here for two communities and the NBA.”
A Seattle group led by investor Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has a pending agreement with the Maloof family to buy 65 percent of the team and move it back to the city the SuperSonics left in 2008. Sacramento has put together its own group to make a competing bid.
Both sides made presentations to a committee of owners on Wednesday _ with George Maloof making clear during Seattle’s that his family wanted to deal with them _ that left enough questions that Stern says he doesn’t know when a decision will be made.
A vote was expected during the April 18-19 board of governors meeting. But Stern said questions remain about real estate and arena construction timelines, and owners may need more time to sort through them.
It couldn’t go much past that date, because a 2013-14 schedule has to be made and tickets have to be sold.
“I wouldn’t expect it if it does to slide by a lot, because there’s a combined interest in having some clarity come to this situation,” Stern said.
The Seattle group went first, touting the financial strength of its city and the passion of its fans. Sacramento followed, stressing the support it’s shown for the Kings, even during their many losing seasons, and the city’s plans for a new arena that would revitalize its downtown.
“Think about it for a second. The NBA does not want to move a team from one market to another, period,” Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said. “We already know that. They normally move a team from one market to another when the fans don’t support it or you can’t build a building. That’s not the case in Sacramento.”
Eight owners made up the committee Wednesday. Sacramento’s group, consisting of Silicon Valley software tycoon Vivek Ranadive, 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, billionaire investor Ron Burkle and Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs, seemed loose afterward, laughing and joking through a press conference.
Seattle’s were more guarded, with Hansen revealing little about what was said during the meeting.
“I believe Chris did a very thorough job of outlining the deal and what the ownership team was looking at it,” Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said. “I think Steve Ballmer did a very good job of expressing the kind of the enthusiasm for Seattle, and now’s a good moment for us, and George Maloof closed by expressing his desire to close the deal with Chris Hansen. So collectively, I think the team did a very good job.”
A group of Sacramento fans wearing Kings jerseys gathered in front of the New York hotel where the meetings were held to greet their contingent, led by Johnson. He’s confident his city has done everything asked to show its commitment to keeping the Kings in Sacramento and building a new arena.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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