SEATTLE - All involved parties confirmed Monday that a deal has been reached to sell the NBA's Sacramento Kings to a Seattle-based ownership group, the first such confirmation since a rumor posted nearly two weeks ago set Twitter on fire.
The deal must still be approved by the league's board of governors, but the hope is the team would move to Seattle and play in KeyArena starting this fall.
Statements were released Monday by Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof, Seattle investor Chris Hansen, and the NBA.
On the site SonicsArena.com, Hansen released the following statement:
"We are happy to announce that we have entered into a binding agreement with the Maloofs to purchase a controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings NBA franchise. The sale is obviously subject to approval by the NBA Board of Governors, and we look forward to working with the League in the coming months to consummate the transaction.
"While we are not at liberty to discuss the terms of the transaction or our plans for the franchise given the confidential nature of the agreement and NBA regulations regarding public comments during a pending transaction, we would just like to extend our sincerest compliments and gratitude toward the Maloof family. Our negotiations with the family were handled with the utmost honor and professionalism and we hope to continue their legacy and be great stewards of this NBA franchise in the coming years and decades."
The Maloof family announced that an executed purchase and sale agreement has been reached to sell the family’s interest in the Kings to a group led by Hansen. No details of the sale were released, pending approval by the league.
“We have always appreciated and treasured our ownership of the Kings and have had a great admiration for the fans and our team members. We would also like thank Chris Hansen for his professionalism during our negotiation. Chris will be a great steward for the franchise,” said Gavin Maloof, Kings co-owner speaking on behalf of the Maloof family.
The NBA also released this statement Monday.
"The NBA received an executed Purchase and Sale Agreement for the transfer of a controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings from the Maloof family to an investor group led by Christopher Hansen. The proposed transaction is subject to the approval of the NBA Board of Governors and has been referred to the Board's committee process for review."
The next board meeting is schedule for April 18 and 19.
Hansen’s investment group has been negotiating with the Maloof family off and on for several months, and only in the last few weeks did the talks really heat up. The potential $500 million deal would be subject to NBA approval, and would require Hansen to file for relocation by March 1.
The team would play in KeyArena for at least two years. Hansen needs to have an NBA anchor tenant in place before his group can begin construction on a proposed $490 million arena in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood. Hansen would receive $145 million in public financing if only an NBA team plays there. He would receive $200 million if both an NBA and NHL team play there.
That proposal still faces two lawsuits, and is currently going through a design and environmental review.
"It's good news," Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said Monday. "We've been working a long time and we've tried to work hard in Seattle to set the stage so that Chris Hansen could go seek and acquire a team."
McGinn acknowledged that this is difficult for the City of Sacramento and Kings fans.
"If mayors made the rules I think we'd be talking about expansion, not the situtation we're in," he said. "But we don't make the rules so we know this is hard on Sacramento. We did our job to lay the groundwork for getting a new team and given the way the NBA works, this is the situation we're in."
The new NBA franchise would be known as the Sonics.
The City has not had a professional basketball franchise since 2008, when the then-Sonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. That franchise called Seattle home for 41 years.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said late Sunday, in a brief Facebook message, that he would not give up without a fight:
“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. 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."
KING 5's Susan Wyatt contributed to this report.