- Associated Press - Monday, January 21, 2013

The only thing stopping the Sacramento Kings from a sale and move to Seattle is approval by NBA owners.

The Maloof family has agreed to sell the Kings to a Seattle group led by investor Chris Hansen, two people familiar with the decision said Sunday night. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal is still pending approval from the NBA Board of Governors.

One person said Hansen’s group will buy 65 percent of the franchise for $525 million, move the team to Seattle and restore the SuperSonics name. The Maloofs will have no stake in the team.

The sale figure is a total valuation of the franchise, which includes relocation fees. Hansen’s group also is hoping to buy out other minority investors.

The Maloofs will receive a $30 million non-refundable deposit Feb. 1, according to the deal, one person said. They will still be allowed to receive other offers until the league approves the sale.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said last week he had received permission from NBA Commissioner David Stern to present a counteroffer to league owners from buyers who would keep the Kings in Sacramento.

The plan by Hansen’s group is to have the team play at least the next two seasons in KeyArena before moving into a new facility in downtown Seattle. The deadline for teams to apply for a move for the next season is March 1.

Johnson said in a statement late Sunday night that the city remains undeterred despite the agreement with the Seattle group.

“Sacramento has proven that it is a strong NBA market with a fan base that year in and year out has demonstrated a commitment to the Kings by selling out 19 of 27 seasons in a top 20 market and owning two of the longest sellout streaks in NBA history,” Johnson said.

“When it comes to keeping the team in our community, Sacramento is playing to win. In particular, we have been focused like a laser on identifying an ownership group that will both have the financial resources desired by the NBA and the vision to make the Kings the NBA equivalent of what the Green Bay Packers have been in the NFL.”

In a saga that has dragged on for nearly three years, Johnson and Sacramento appear to be facing their most daunting challenge yet.

Hansen, a Seattle native and San Francisco-based investor, reached agreement with local governments in Seattle last October on plans to build a $490 million arena near the city’s other stadiums, CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field.

As part of the agreement, no construction will begin until all environmental reviews are completed and a team has been secured.

Hansen’s group is expected to pitch in $290 million in private investment toward the arena, along with helping to pay for transportation improvements in the area around the stadiums.

The plans also call for the arena to be able to handle a future NHL franchise.

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