SEATTLE - Chris Hansen just raised the stakes in the effort to bring the Sacramento Kings to Seattle.
Seattle’s lead investor told the NBA Friday he will raise his bid on the Kings franchise to $625 million, an increase of $75 million on his previous bid. Hansen had already raised the valuation of his bid to $550 million in an attempt to sway NBA owners.
He is attempting to purchase 65 percent of the franchise from the Maloof family. Hansen’s group had already placed $357 million in escrow for the majority share. This is the third time his group has raised his bid.
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“In an effort to further demonstrate the extent of our commitment to bring basketball back to Seattle, we have elected to voluntarily increase our proposed purchase price for the Sacramento Kings NBA Franchise by $75 million,” wrote Hansen in a post on the Seattle Arena website.
“While we appreciate that this is a very difficult decision for the league and owners, we hope it is understood that we really believe the time is now to bring the NBA back to Seattle, and that it is paramount that we do everything we can to put Seattle’s best foot forward in this process,” he added.
“Yet again, Chris Hansen, Steve Ballmer, and Peter and Erik Nordstrom have demonstrated their commitment to bring back the NBA. We unquestionably have the stronger proposal. Don’t count out the green and the gold,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine in a statement.
”Chris is playing to win,” tweeted Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who this week urged Hansen to “take the high road” and end his pursuit of the Kings, responded to the move via Twitter.
”We feel very confident about the position we are in right now,” Johnson tweeted. “The NBA leadership and owners have always said that their decision would not be dictated by a bidding war.”
An NBA spokesman said Friday the league would not officially comment on the increased bid.
The move comes just days before 30 league owners are scheduled to vote on his purchase of the Kings franchise and relocation to Seattle.
Multiple reports now suggest a competing Sacramento group is still trying to put together a matching offer for the franchise, that be used as a backup bid to keep the team in Sacramento.
University of New Hampshire Sports and Entertainment Law Institute Director Michael McCann says it is still unclear if owners will be voting on the original purchase agreement, or the new Hansen bid.
But McCann says he thinks Hansen may be trying to drive home a point about the economics of the deal.
”I think he wants them to ask themselves what is in the best interest in the NBA in terms of money,” said McCann. “What Hansen is doing is telling the other NBA owners, and ultimately, that’s who will decide this, do they want to see the value of their franchises go up? By taking the highest offer, which is clearly (Hansen’s). That is putting NBA Owners in a difficult position to reject him.”
Late Friday, a group called Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork, or STOP, said it has raised sufficient resources to begin gathering signatures for a initiative campaign to block the Sacramento Arena plan. The city council has approved a non-binding $447 million dollar downtown complex plan.
NBA owners are scheduled to vote on May 15 in Dallas. The league’s relocation committee already voted to deny the move of the franchise.
KING 5’s Travis Pittman contributed to this report.