NBA owners vote against Kings relocation

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by Associated Press and KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on May 15, 2013 at 7:14 AM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 27 at 3:10 PM

NBA owners on Wednesday voted against Chris Hansen's bid to relocate the Sacramento Kings to Seattle.

The vote was 22-8.

"This is going to be short; I have a game to get to in Oklahoma City," NBA Commissioner David Stern said to start his press conference. "We're able to report to you that the NBA Board of Governors voted to reject the relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle."

Poll: What did you think of Stern's Oklahoma City comment?

The NBA Board of Governors met in Dallas to resolve the tug of war over the Kings between a group in Seattle that wants to move them and a group in Sacramento that wants the franchise to stay put.

The board heard from representatives for both sides -- Seattle ownership group leader Chris Hansen and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. Each side was given 45 minutes to make its presentation.

Follow KING 5's Chris Daniels on Twitter, reporting from Dallas

"The Seattle presentation was brisk, firm, excellent and reflected the efforts that have been put into this and the extraordinary ownership group that they have put together," said NBA Commissioner David Stern.

"At the conclusion, though, the committee voted, and recommended to the board and was adopted that if the Sacramento community could produce a site, a construction team, a financially strong ownership group and the kind of support by the city and the region that the Mayor Johnson has galvanized, then the appropriate outcome was to keep the team in Seattle, and that's what they did," said Stern.

After months of staying quiet and letting the process play out, the Seattle group trying to purchase the Kings went on the offensive following the NBA relocation committee's decision on April 29 to recommend denying the move.

Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer raised their purchase offer of the Kings by $75 million and negotiated a back-up deal with the Maloof family in an effort to sway owners to vote in their favor.

Asked about the Hansen back-up bid, Stern said there was nothing in writing for group to vote on regarding that.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn issued a statement saying he shares the disappointment of Sonics fans, but "we are in this for the long haul."

"The Memorandum of Understanding we have with Chris Hansen is for five years, and we will continue working to bring the NBA back to Seattle. I want to express my thanks and appreciation to Chris Hansen, Steve Ballmer, and the Nordstroms for their hard work and dedication to bringing the Sonics home."

"This is a tough loss, but we're encouraged by just how far we've come in the last year," said Metropolitan King County Council Chair Larry Gossett. "Mr. Hansen has put Seattle back on the NBA map, and I know it's a matter of when-not if-that the Supersonics will return."

"I'm disappointed by today's decision. I know the work will continue," said Council Budget Chair Joe McDermott. "Mr. Hansen's vision has brought us this far, and I look forward to the Sonics returning to Seattle."

Gossett and McDermott said the NBA was reminded that Seattle is still a viable location for an NBA franchise.

Kevin Calabro, the former voice of the Sonics, remains optimistic Seattle will get a team.

“The Sonics will be coming back, I believe, as an expansion team and I think it will be coming back when the new TV contract is in full swing, which will be the ’15-’16 season,” he said. “It would fall in line with the framework of the MOU, so I’m optimistic.”

Seattle has been without an NBA franchise since the SuperSonics moved. Led by star Kevin Durant, the Thunder have made the playoffs four straight seasons, reached the Western Conference finals in 2011 and lost to Miami in last year's NBA finals.

The NBA's relocation committee, coincidentally headed by Bennett, voted unanimously last month to reject the bid to move the Kings.

In a letter sent to the relocation and finance committees during its April 17 meeting, the Maloofs said they preferred to sell to the Seattle group and expressed discontent with Sacramento's latest bid, saying it falls "significantly short."

Eight owners did vote for the move - including Blazers owner and Seattle-Ite Paul Allen.

"It was important for him to be supportive of Seattle,” said Vulcan CEO Peter McLoughlin, who represented the Blazers at the meeting.

The stage is now set for the NBA to force the Maloofs to sell the franchise to a back-up group, yet George Maloof is noncommittal.

"There is no pressure on us... zero,” he said.

The NBA's incoming commissioner, Adam Silver, did open the door a bit.

"Expansion was discussion as a least a possibility down the road, we will have to wait and see,” he said.

Hansen spent nearly two years working to get an arena plan approved by the city and county governments and spent more than $65 million buying land in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood where the arena would be built. Hansen has a five-year memorandum of understanding with the city and county on the arena plan.

Hansen issued a statement after the vote was annonced Wednesday, saying he looks forward to "hearing back on our agreement to join the Maloofs as Limited Partners in the Kings."

"Our day will come...and when it does it will just be that much sweeter for the struggle," he said.
 

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