The deadline for the Sacramento Kings to apply to move to Anaheim, California, was extended to May 2 as the National Basketball Association gathers more facts about both locations, NBA Commissioner David Stern said.
The deadline for the Kings to ask permission to shift cities had been set for April 18.
It was pushed back after the league’s Board of Governors, meeting in New York, heard yesterday from the franchise-owning Maloof family and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who said there was interest in a group buying the Kings and keeping them in the California capital city.
The NBA’s relocation committee, led by Clay Bennett, the chairman of the Oklahoma City Thunder, wanted more time to study financing, television and construction issues surrounding the Kings’ planned to move to Anaheim, as well as a better understanding of financial proposals made by Johnson about the Kings’ economic viability in Sacramento, Stern said at a news conference.
“The committee thought that it would be a good idea to do a little bit more fact-finding,” Stern said.
The Maloofs repeated yesterday that the Kings aren’t for sale.
Johnson, a former NBA All-Star guard, told owners his priority was to keep the Kings in Sacramento as the city works to build a new entertainment complex. A group led by Pittsburgh Penguins billionaire co-owner Ron Burkle is willing to buy the Kings or take over a new franchise in Sacramento at a later date, Johnson said afterward.
‘Worth Fighting For’
“We felt very strongly that the Sacramento Kings were worth fighting for,” Johnson said at a news conference yesterday. “If anybody thinks that we’re going to sit on our hands and roll over and just let somebody leave town without putting up a good fight, they’d be gravely mistaken.”
Burkle’s group wants to keep a franchise in Sacramento, Johnson said.
“This is not meant to be a hostile takeover,” Darius Anderson, a member of Burkle’s group, said at the news conference. “We wanted to give an alternative group if the Maloofs opt to bring on additional partners, if they want to go ahead and sell and, if we lose the Kings, that the NBA has an alternative ownership group to bring an additional franchise at a later date.”
The possibility of a new ownership group bringing a different team to Sacramento is “not a high priority on our agenda,” Stern said today.
The Kings have complained in recent years about a lack of luxury suites and amenities at their arena in Sacramento. They were next-to-last among the NBA’s 30 teams in attendance this season, averaging 13,890 fans per game.
Sacramento, which has failed in past attempts to get a new arena built with taxpayer money, is going forward with an entertainment complex and arena plans regardless of whether the Kings depart, Johnson said.
“You have a community that’s much more poised and more sophisticated today in terms of the challenges that it takes to build a new entertainment complex,” he said.
The city expects to complete a feasibility study on a venue by the end of May, said Tim Romani, president and chief executive officer of ICON Venue Group.
“The question that we still have to work through, and we’re going to work through, is the funding model,” Romani said at yesterrday’s conference.