by Grant Livingstone
Over the past 883 days, “I’ve been counting” says Chris Hansen, real estate was quietly purchased, investors scouted and the culmination of these efforts now lies in the hands of a soon to retire NBA commissioner (David Stern), a 75 (percent) approval vote from league owners (just 8 of 30 votes would botch the sale), and a city that doesn’t want to lose their only professional sports team.
In 2008 the Sonics were bought by a group of Oklahoma City businessmen lead by Clay Bennett. Efforts were made to relocate the Sonics in Renton with a reported $500 million dollar arena but due to a lack of enthusiasm the team simply said it’s goodbye’s to Seattle and nestled into Oklahoma City with newly drafted, current All-star Kevin Durant.
With a final decision to be made at the end of this week we will soon learn the outcome of Hansen and investors vast effort’s. In June 2011 Hedge-fund manager and longtime Sonics fan Chris Hansen initiated meetings with NBA officials with hopes to bring an NBA team back to Seattle. Hansen’s efforts to steer an NBA team back took flight early December 2011, according to reports inside the NBA’s league offices in New York. But he had been working out of the public eye long before December 2011-according to a timeline declared by Hansen in a statement made by the NBA.
It all started as a child for Hansen. With the foundation of money made as a hedge-fund founder and veins that pump green and yellow he began looking for teams that would fit well in Seattle; Sacramento was an easy target. The Kings (owned by the Maloof Family) haven’t made it to the NBA finals in over 50 years, making them the perfect team to relocate. With a tweet breaking the story of the sale, it was learned that Hansen and his investors offered to purchase a 65(percent) controlling share of the team, bringing Seattle even closer to once again housing an NBA team. The team was purchased for $341 million. With analyst using a valuation method it was determined that the team was valued at $525 Million, making it the highest priced NBA franchise to current date.
With Commissioner David Stern’s tenure with the NBA coming to a close it was becoming evident that he was not eager to approve the move. A driving force behind Sacramento’s efforts to keep the Kings is Kevin Johnson. Johnson, a retired NBA All-Star point-guard now Mayor of Sacramento has been assured a fair chance to keep the team by Stern, but with momentum moving in favor of the Sonics his efforts may not make a big enough splash to keep the team in Sacramento.
When reports of Johnson’s own group began talks about a matching offer with hopes to keep the Kings where they have been losing for the past 50 year, Hansen responded with a powerful message by increasing his bid to $550 million solidifying any doubts Seattleites and other league owners may have had on whether Hansen was the real deal or not. This show of force and heart is said to have made it easier for owners to get behind him (keep in mind we need a 23/30 owners approval).
With David Stern not keen on the idea of relocating a beloved Kings franchise to Seattle as Sacramento’s last line of defense, things look bright for the return of the Super Sonics.
“It’s taken a lot of preparation and hard work to get to where we are now”, says Hanson in a recent interview. It’s been a long road to travel down for Seattle these past few years and even longer for Chris Hansen and Investors but we have all been patient, and eagerly waiting. Come Friday, Seattle will know if the Sonics are coming home.
Sacramento Trying To Block Seattle Out Of Deal
A weekend with cheers and congratulations will have to be put on hold. With the NBA Board of Governors meeting in New York this week, a decision on the relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle has been pushed back, but Hansen still stands his ground. NBA committees opted not to make a recommendation to push the relocation of the Kings to Seattle to the Board of Governors this week.
The Sacramento Bee reported this week that Sacramento’s bid to keep the team was “nonbinding”, also that the offer asks for the Maloof family to terminate it’s deal with Hansen and it’s investors. This would prevent the NBA from even voting on Seattle’s offer.
Outside of League offices Stern spoke briefly on when to expect a decision, “I’d be charitable to say the first week of May, but it could slide a bit… I’m guessing 2-3 weeks [from now].” Committees are expected to meet next week to further study the proposal.
When asked if expansion was out of the question, San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt said “not necessarily.” When asked the same question, Stern said: “there are no current plans to expand” noting that expansion was not discussed at the meeting.
“It’s really quite complex,” said Stern about the process as a whole. The standard protocol for relocating a team is an extensive process and requires every inch to be examined. Details of finance, real estate, and even environmental studies need to be taken and then ironed out multiple times to ensure the right decision is being made.
With NBA bylaws requiring issued reports from these finance/real estate committees 7 business days before the Board of Governors can bring it to a vote, I wouldn’t hold my breath on a decision anytime soon.
We now know that new reports are still coming in, having said that Stern’s 2-3 weeks until a decision may slide even longer.