NBA Relocation Committee Recommending Kings Remain in Sacramento

The much-traveled Sacramento Kings should remain in that city rather than move to Seattle in a sale headed by Valiant Capital Management founder Chris Hansen, the National Basketball Association’s relocation committee said.

The 12-member panel of team owners recommended unanimously that the NBA Board of Governors reject Hansen’s bid to buy the Kings from the Maloof family and instead accept the offer of a group put together by Kevin Johnson, a former NBA All-Star who is now the mayor of California’s capital city.

That group, led by Golden State Warriors part-owner Vivek Ranadive, 55, the founder of Tibco Software Inc. (TIBX), would become the Kings’ new owners and a new arena would be built in Sacramento if the full board accepts the relocation panel’s position.

“I’ve never been prouder of this city,” Johnson said yesterday in a Twitter message. “I thank the ownership group, city leaders, but most of all the BEST FANS IN THE NBA!!!”

The league said in an e-mailed release that the Board of Governors will meet the week of May 13 to vote on the Kings sale.

The franchise began in 1948 in Rochester, New York, as the Royals; moved to Cincinnati in 1958; became the Kansas City- Omaha Kings from 1972 to 1975, and was the Kansas City Kings from 1976 to 1985 before moving to Sacramento. The team’s only NBA title was in 1951.

The Kings have been owned by the Maloofs since July 1999. The family reached a preliminary deal with Sacramento in February 2012 to build a new arena, only to have the accord fall through within two months.

Maloof Family

In January, the Maloofs agreed to sell 65 percent of the Kings to the Hansen group, which included Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer, in an accord that may have valued the team at an NBA-record $525 million. Hansen agreed to buy an additional 7 percent in April related to the bankruptcy of Kings minority owner Bob Cook, according to the Seattle Times.

Hansen’s group filed to relocate the team in February, after which NBA Commissioner David Stern told reporters that the “very strong” group proposed to move the team for the 2013-14 season and to play at Seattle’s KeyArena for two or three seasons while a new facility was built.

Since making its initial offer in March with 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide Inc. founder Mark Mastrov as principal owner, the Sacramento group added Ranadive, who would become the league’s first Indian owner, and Paul Jacobs, the chief executive officer of Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) Ron Burkle, the billionaire investor and managing partner of Yucaipa Cos., will lead an effort to develop an entertainment and sports complex at the Downtown Plaza Mall.

“I’m speechless,” Ranadive said in a Twitter message. “Thanks to all of the amazing people who supported this great effort.”

Oklahoma City

Seattle hasn’t had an NBA team since 2008, when the SuperSonics ended their 41-year stay by moving to Oklahoma City and becoming the Thunder. The move followed a lack of public support for building a new arena in Seattle to replace KeyArena, the same issue that plagued previous Sacramento attempts to secure its own franchise.

“I’m proud of how Sonics fans have rallied together to help Seattle get a team,” Mayor Mike McGinn said in a statement posted on the city’s website. “We’re going to stay focused on our job: Making sure Seattle remains in a position to get a team when the opportunity presents itself.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at mlevinson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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