As I imagine most of your Seattle readers and even fringe NBA fans, news broke yesterday that the Maloofs are close to selling the Sacramento Kings to Seattle SoDo Arena backed group led by Chris Hansen & Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The intent of the purchase will be to move the team next season to play in Key Arena while the SoDo Arena is built. This is obviously huge news for the City of Seattle and the huge Sonics fan base. As I’ve said numerous times here before, an NBA team is a prerequisite to getting an NHL Team. Why? Well we don’t have an arena for them to play in and the SoDo Arena is really tied to the Hansen group’s financing deal with the city. In that deal, the arena cannot break ground until an NBA team is procured for the Seattle. (I actually cannot recall if it is specific to an “NBA” team but I know Hansen does not want to be an NHL owner). Also important to realize is that the Key Arena is not a good temporary facility for hockey. Because of the small footprint, part of the arena must be closed off (I’ve included an old grainy picture from a game I played in 7 or so years ago in the Key).
Take a look at some of Hansen’s comments made to a radio show in the summer. He has said that it is probably ideal for hockey to come a couple years after the NBA because of the Key Arena facilities. I also recall an interview Gord Brown, one of the owners from the T-Birds, gave about a year ago where basically said there is no way the NHL would play a season in Key Arena. The interview was about this time last year but I have no clue what radio show it was on.
So this all sounds great but it is important to remember that this deal for the Sacramento Kings is not done and the Maloofs have not been the most forthright negotiator so let’s not get overly excited here. It should also pointed out that the news triggered Kevin Johnson, ex-NBA star and Mayor of Sacramento, to hold a press conference saying that they will “fight like crazy” to keep the team in Sacramento including finding a local ownership group.
In something that even surprised me, yesterday a reported asked Gary Bettman about the possibilities of a team in Seattle. His response was pretty much as you would expect: “Not something we’re focused on or considering right now”. Keep in mind that the CBA has not been signed and the schedule isn’t even out yet so I would be shocked if he would have commented with substance on the topic. Audio here: relocation comes up around the 10 minute mark and the question on Seattle comes up around the 14 minute mark.
Here is some other important info that I was able to aggregate:
- Kevin Johnson will be looking for a mix of local buyers and out of the area investors that will keep the team in Sacramento
- The rumored price the Hansen/Ballmer team are offering up is 500Million. Forbes has the Kings valued at 300M
- According to sources, the Maloofs will retain a small ownership position in the Kings/Sonics
- Deal calls for them playing in Key Arena to start the 2013/14 season
- NBA has a relocation application process that would require a team to file before March 1st
This is all great news even if nothing is finalized but let us remember there are fans on the other side of this potential deal so be respectful. I wish there was another way.
January 11th UPDATE: According to Matt Steinmetz, a San Francisco NBA beat writer, the deal is done. 525Million with no ownership for the Maloofs. https://twitter.com/MSteinmetzCSN/status/289786204034052096