Sacramento and Seattle Wrestle for the Kings in New York: Decision Still to Come

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, standing second to left, and Sacramento City Councilman Allen Wayne Warren, standing far left, take a photo with representatives that made a presentation to the NBA in hopes of keeping the Sacramento Kings in town.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, standing second to left, and Sacramento City Councilman Allen Wayne Warren, standing far left, take a photo with representatives that made a presentation to the NBA in hopes of keeping the Sacramento Kings in town.

NEW YORK – Sacramento laid out its “compelling case” of its plans to build a brand new sports and entertainment arena and financial efforts to keep the Sacramento Kings in town Wednesday to the NBA’s Finance and Relocation committees in New York.

So did an investment group that has already agreed to buy 65 percent ownership of the Kings and move them to Seattle.

It was the first time Seattle’s investment group and Sacramento’s ownership consortium went before the NBA to discuss which city deserves to control the franchise.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and an entourage including members of the ownership investment group and State Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) were expressing optimism after emerging from the meeting to discuss the city’s chances of keeping the Kings and transforming downtown Sacramento into a Northern California utopia.

Johnson emerged from the meeting feeling good about the presentation in front of the committees made up of 12 NBA owners. As Johnson put it, Sacramento had “a chance to tell our story… what I think was very compelling.”

“I truly say that we’ve got an A-team that brought their A-game,” Johnson said. “I’m thanking the commissioner and all the owners of both committees that allowed us to tell our story. They were opened-minded and they let us get to the facts of the nitty-gritty. We got down to the nuts and bolts.”

Chris Hansen, who is leading the ownership group for Seattle spoke a few hours before Johnson. The Seattle group laid out its case first, with George Maloof, the brother of Kings’ owners Joe and Gavin Maloof, in the room. George Maloof was also present for Sacramento’s pitch. Seattle has agreed to sell the team for $525 million to the Maloof family.

“We’re optimistic,” Hansen said. “The ownership group is very enthusiastic, and we appreciate the NBA has got a tough decision to make, and we’re hopeful for an outcome in our favor.”

Shortly after Johnson’s press conference, NBA Commissioner David Stern spoke about both cities’ offerings, commending Sacramento and Seattle on their presentations. Stern said the NBA is in an area it has never been before with one city vying against another and the result could expand beyond April 18 and 19 when the NBA Board of Governors meet.

“We heard a day full of extraordinary presentations of a complex real estate, arena, construction timelines, potential obstacles and team funding in two really great cities,” Stern said. “It was a long day without any breaks, and both sides made, in my view, very strong presentations.”

Johnson was in New York with software tycoon Vivek Ranadive, supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle, and 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov. Ranadive and Mastrov lead the ownership group to buy the Kings while Burkle heads the team to build the $448 million sports and entertainment arena where the Sacramento Downtown Plaza stands.

All Sacramento needs is for less than 75 percent approval from 30 teams to sale the team and at least eight owners to reject the move to Seattle. Stern said in February during All-Star Weekend in Houston that one of the cities will not be happy about the outcome and an expansion team to satisfy the situation is out of the question. There are still more questions to be asked, Stern said. But it will all come down to the NBA Board of Governors when they do decide the outcome.

“We left it all on the floor,” Johnson said. “We feel very confident with our story, very confident, and ultimately it’s in the owners’ hands to make a final decision.”

NEW YORK NOTES:

Sacramento City Councilman Allen Wayne Warren, the representative for District 2, was also in New York to monitor the situation of the meetings. Warren was one of the member of the City Council that voted in favor of a financial term sheet to build a new sports and entertainment arena.