There is a lot to understand when it comes to the potential sale of Sacramento Kings. As NBA commissioner David Stern laid out Saturday, the 29 owners deciding the Kings’ future home face a complex story involving a great ownership group in Seattle and a compelling story out of Sacramento.
Seattle’s ownership group already has executed a contract to buy the Kings from the Maloof family. If Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson produces a “fair and competitive” offer – including a significant public subsidy for a new arena – it would potentially give the owners two viable options.
A sale agreement would need to be approved by a three-quarters vote of NBA owners. A relocation approval must pass with a majority vote. Both issues are intertwined, as Stern has combined both relocation and finance committees to review the matter with a vote likely occurring at the Board of Governors meeting in mid-April.
The Maloofs have already filed for relocation to Seattle, and despite reports out of Seattle that the deal has already been vetted Stern said on Saturday that the committees are still reviewing the sale and relocation bid.
Early reports mirrored the efforts of the Seattle group to portray an NBA decision to allow the Kings to move to Seattle as a done deal. Sources have told PBT that Sacramento would be given a real chance to produce a ‘fair and competitive’ offer to keep the team in California’s capitol.
Stern’s comments have echoed that sentiment leading up to this week, and on Saturday he said it was “plausible” that the Kings remain in Sacramento, and that a decision would be made on a number of criteria but that “economics” would not be the lone factor. Stern’s comments are rooted in the multitude of issues that will play a role in the BOG’s decision-making that aren’t tied to franchise price, but overlook the “economics” factor.
“I don’t think it’s a bidding war….” Stern said last week. “There’s a series of issues that are defined by our constitution that have to be considered. One of the things that our board is mandated to consider is the support for the team in the prior city. So there are real issues for the board to consider, about the buildings, about the likelihood they will be built, about the support from the cities.”
Stern also addressed the idea of expansion on Saturday, an idea that would give the league a potential out to keep both cities and potential ownership groups happy.
“I don’t see any scenario where both cities are happy….” Stern said. “There’s a large group of owners who believe that expansion as an economic matter; is a neutral thing. At least the way we’ve done it to date, you get a lot of money in and in return for that you cut the new team in for a large and growing source of revenue from national TV, national licensing, and all things international and digital. And then it doesn’t really seem to make that much additional sense as the increased revenue that demands to the gross (basketball-related income) and increased each player costs and the like.
“So it has to be parsed and analyzed but right now given that we’ve just come through an intriguing collective bargaining negotiation and coupled it with specific revenue sharing, over $200 million, I think the sentiment is to let it all settle and assess how we are doing and what the projections are for how we’ll do.”
Multiple sources told PBT that even if expansion were a possibility that it would be extremely unlikely for the league to express support for it.
This will continue as a two-city race for one team to be decided by the Board of Governors in the coming months.