SACRAMENTO – With rumors flying around that an investor has inquired about purchasing the Sacramento Kings and moving the team out of the city, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said mid-week, that he is putting together a group to also make a bid for the team that’s been in Sacramento for the last 27 years.
Swirling reports have surfaced that investor Chris Hansen plans to offer (or has already offered) as much as $500 million to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle as early as next season. This comes on the heels of Virginia Beach’s announcement, also this week, that the city has abandoned a relocation effort of the team to the Virginia city.
That news, coupled with the reports of a sale opened up a last ditch try of Mayor Johnson for Sacramento.
“I felt that it was important for the city of Sacramento to make a statement of kind where we are,” Johnson said at a mid-week news conference at City Hall.
“Today is a significant day for our community because for the first time it appears that the Sacramento Kings are for sale,” said Mayor Johnson.
Johnson said Sacramento is still in a position to vie for the team’s residency based upon previous efforts to keep the team in the city. The last two years, the Mayor said was all about building an arena. The ninth day of the 2013 year, it maybe about ownership.
The Maloof family still hasn’t publicly said if the team was for sale.
“For the past 27 years our community has staunchly supported the NBA and the Kings,” Johnson said.
“Last year the city presented a deal that was approved by the NBA and the Kings. It increased the value of their franchise, created additional jobs, and economic development opportunities in the Sacramento region as a whole.
“Following those steps and those efforts, I’m going to make every effort I can to identify a potential buyer that would ensure that the Sacramento Kings remain in Sacramento,” said Mayor Johnson.
Last year there were some business owners in the city ready buy the team after the downtown arena deal fell through. Johnson was asked if Ron Burkle, a billionaire from Southern California, who owns the Pittsburg Penguins, would be a potential buyer. The mayor appeared to sidestep the question.
The Mayor said two questions and variables nobody seems to know is, one, is the team for sale; and, two, what is their asking price.
“I didn’t have either of those answers,” Mayor Johnson said.
The team has been valued at $300 million, which means it could net as much as $200 million in the rumored Seattle deal.
Whether the team stays or goes, the Maloofs still must pay the loan it owes the city of Sacramento.
If the team goes Sacramento City Manager John Shirey told The OBSERVER that amount of repayment could balloon to about $77 million.
The Maloofs still have not revealed their intentions to sell the team. If so, Sacramento leaders say that they want to make a pitch for it.
“We are going to everything possible to put ourselves in the driver’s seat and to participate (in the bidding of the Kings),” Johnson stated.
By Antonio Harvey
Observer Staff Writer