SEATTLE -- Sacramento took a step forward Tuesday night in its quest to keep the Kings.

The City Council voted 7-2 to authorize the City Manager to begin negotiations on preliminary terms for a new Sports Arena complex. The move is seen as a precursor to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson s promised announcement of a competing investment team, that he hopes to present to NBA owner.

Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer filed formal documents to purchase 65% of the franchise, and move the team to Seattle in time for the 2013-14 season. The owners will vote on the transaction in April.

The Seattle City and King County Councils approved a Memorandum of Understanding last year, which outlines the financial framework and process for construction of new Arena. The team, likely to be renamed the Sonics, would play at Key Arena for at least two seasons. The MOU calls for a financial and environmental review of the project before gaining final approval.

The latter was a key point in a lawsuit brought forth by the ILWU, which was dismissed by a judge last Friday.

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