The NBA Board of Governors wants the Sacramento Kings to stay in Sacramento.
During a meeting Wednesday in Dallas, the board voted not to approve the relocation of the team to Seattle. The board includes owners from all 30 NBA teams; the vote was 22-8 against moving the team.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson called it "a good day for Sacramento."
NBA Commissioner David Stern said the league will try and facilitate a deal between the Maloof family, the majority owner of the Kings, and a group that wants to buy the team and keep it in Sacramento.
"I anticipate that they will come to be open" to a deal, Stern said of the Maloof family. "The owners listened, they voted and because the Maloofs overall have been very good for Sacramento and the Kings and the NBA they will be motivated to do something fast."
Stern said the NBA would like to see a deal "as soon as possible." Johnson said he expects negotiations to be held around the clock for the next few days, and that a deal could be done within 48 hours.
Last week, the board's relocation committee voted unanimously to recommend against the Kings move. Many said Wednesday's vote was a formality, but it was still crucial in Sacramento's effort to keep the team.
"I would say it's a victory for Sacramento, not a victory for the NBA," Stern said. "I think the mayor has done a great job and Vivek Ranadive did a great job and the City Council of Sacramento did a really wonderful thing as far as expressing on behalf of the region support for this project."
However, the vote is not the final chapter in the Kings saga. The Maloof family will likely review a counter-offer for the team from a Sacramento group led by software company owner Vivek Ranadive.
George Maloof said on Tuesday that no one from his family has ever said they would not sell to a Sacramento group. He also said he did not expect the Kings saga to end Wednesday.
A group of investors led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wants to buy the team at a valuation of $625 million and move it to Seattle. Meanwhile, a group of Sacramento investors, led by Ranadive, has offered to buy the team at a valuation of $525 million. Sacramento officials also are planning to build a new downtown arena for the team.
"We believe in Sacramento," Johnson said. "We get a chance to transform our downtown community, something we've wanted to do."
In a strange twist, the Maloof family has reportedly said that if the NBA Board of Governors did not approve the $625 million deal, they would consider selling 20 percent of their share of the Kings to the Hansen-Ballmer group, allowing the Maloof family to operate the team in Sacramento. George Maloof said it's a way for Hansen and Ballmer to enter the league.
After the announcement, Hansen released the following statement on the website SonicsArena.com:
While we are obviously extremely disappointed with today's relocation vote and truly believe we put forth both a significantly better offer and Arena plan, we do thank the league and the owners for their time and consideration and look forward to hearing back on our agreement to join the Maloofs as Limited Partners in the Kings.
But most of all I would like to thank everyone in Seattle who has been a part of our effort and supported our cause. Words simply can't express how much your support has meant to me personally and to our City. I truly believe we did everything possible to put our best foot forward in this process and you all should be proud and hold your heads high today.
Our day will come...and when it does it will just be that much sweeter for the struggle.
I love you Seattle!
Part of the reason the NBA voted to keep the Kings in Sacramento was the city's plan to build a new entertainment and sports complex in downtown. The city would contribute nearly 58 percent of the money needed to build the arena. The investor group will contribute $189.7 million to the construction of the arena and up to $1 billion in total downtown revitalization
The proposed site of the new arena is at the Downtown Plaza, owned by JMA Ventures. The real estate company is one of the main investors in building the new arena. CEO Todd Chapman released the following statement after the NBA announced its decision:
Along with our partner, Los Angeles-based Downtown Properties, we are thrilled that the NBA Board of Governors has decided that the Sacramento Kings will remain in Sacramento.
When we started our efforts to explore an arena at Downtown Plaza in 2012 and approached the Mayor with our desire to put a group together to save the team and relocate them downtown, it looked very much like an insurmountable uphill struggle. But with intrepid spirit and the extraordinary work done by Mayor Johnson, the City Council, the new proposed ownership group and the greater Sacramento community, what seemed next to impossible has come to fruition.
On behalf of everyone here at JMA Ventures, Downtown Partners and our consultant team who have put their shoulders to the wheel to help bring about this most exciting result, we extend our heartfelt congratulations not only to Mayor Johnson and his team, but to all the Sacramento Kings fans who have tirelessly expressed their support and encouragement. Today's announcement by the NBA is not only a great victory, but one we all share.
We are excited to continue working with the Mayor, City Council, City Manager, the members of the new proposed ownership group and others to explore how Sacramento Downtown Plaza can serve as not only the exciting new home for the Kings but also a dynamic centerpiece for Downtown Sacramento.