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Saturday, May 11, 2013 - Page updated at 10:00 p.m.
Chris Hansen ups ante with NBA
By Bob Condotta
Seattle Times staff reporter
After the NBA’s Relocation Committee voted unanimously last week to recommend the Sacramento Kings stay put, Chris Hansen promised “we have absolutely no plans to give up” trying to bring the team to Seattle.
Friday, Hansen followed through on that pledge, announcing he would increase the Seattle offer for the Kings to a total team value of $625 million. That’s up another $75 million from the previous offer by Hansen and his group, which includes Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Because the Seattle group proposes to buy the Maloof family’s 65 percent stake, the latest offer would put another $48.75 million in the current majority owners’ pockets.
Hansen wrote on his sonicsarena.com website that the offer was “an effort to further demonstrate the extent of our commitment to bring basketball back to Seattle.’’
Hansen hopes the increase will sway the NBA’s Board of Governors, meeting Wednesday in Dallas. The board is expected to make a final decision on the four-month tug of war between Seattle and Sacramento for the Kings.
The 7-0 vote of the Relocation Committee last week had many assuming the Board of Governors would likely follow suit and keep the Kings in Sacramento.
Michael McCann, an on-air legal analyst for NBA-TV, said it’s hard to know the ramifications of Hansen’s move Friday because the league has yet to define what the board will be voting on next week. Based on what has been said, the board is to vote on whether to approve the sale of the team to Hansen. The significantly higher bid might make it difficult for the league to turn down Hansen’s offer, McCann said.
“My sense is Hansen is earnestly trying to win both relocation and sale votes before the full Board of Governors and overcome the committee vote,” McCann said. “If Hansen fails to win, he might be trying to plant seeds for an antitrust case against the NBA — basically, the league should expand, given this offer.”
The total valuation of the latest offer is by far the most for a team in NBA history — the highest price paid for a team was $450 million for the Golden State Warriors in 2010.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson expressed confidence the Kings will remain in Sacramento.
“The NBA leadership and owners have always said that their decision would not be dictated by a bidding war,” his statement read. “This was always about whether Sacramento, a community that has supported the NBA for 28 years, can put together a plan and organization to ensure the franchise can rebuild and thrive. The ownership group, the city and the community have shown the NBA, without any shred of doubt, that the Sacramento Kings belong in Sacramento. I believe the NBA owners realize that there is far more to think about than just an increased bid. They know what this story means to the league. We look forward to talking with all of them again in Dallas.”
Hansen did more than just raise the offer for the team, however, also announcing the team would be a “revenue-sharing payer in all years in Seattle.” A group attempting to keep the team in Sacramento had said recently it would not take from the revenue-sharing plan.
But as a smaller-market team, Sacramento would likely not pay into the system, a difference the Seattle group has attempted to emphasize with NBA owners, who share in the revenue.
Hansen also noted the Seattle arena project is “far ahead” of Sacramento’s, specifically that “the ownership group has acquired 100 percent of the property necessary to construct the Arena” and that “we have 100 percent of our private financing for the Arena committed and in place.”
He concluded: “While we appreciate that this is a very difficult decision for the league and owners, we hope it is understood that we really believe the time is now to bring the NBA back to Seattle, and that it is paramount that we do everything we can to put Seattle’s best foot forward in this process.”
As for whether the offer could sway the NBA’s decision, one league source said it could, due to the precedent that would be set by the offer in increasing the value of all of the franchises. One said it could also potentially set up legal action if the NBA does not take the highest offer.
A Sacramento group has offered $341 million for 65 percent of the team, or a total valuation of $525 million, which was the initial Hansen offer in January. In April, a new offer by Hansen increased that by $25 million total (or between $16 million and $17 million for 65 percent).
The Maloof family has several times indicated it would prefer to sell the team to Hansen’s group. A Maloof family spokesman said Friday it would have no comment about Hansen’s latest offer.
It was reported earlier this week that the Sacramento group was being encouraged to place 100 percent of its offer into escrow in hopes of “persuading” the Maloofs to accept the offer. NBA.com reported Friday it was still unclear if the full purchase price had been put into escrow.
The Sacramento Bee reported that a source said the Sacramento group is being asked to make the move to show that it has “the wherewithal” to back its offer.
The Bee reported that the Maloof family has “expressed concerns privately” about the financial viability of the Sacramento group, led by Vivek Ranadive, who is also a part-owner of the Golden State Warriors.
Two media reports this week said the Sacramento group is continuing to look for additional investors to buoy its bid.
The Sacramento group was reported to have put 50 percent of its purchase-price offer in escrow May 3 in an attempt to show it had the needed financing.
The Seattle group has reportedly put 100 percent of its offer in escrow.
Relocation requires the votes of 16 of the 30 NBA owners. Approval of a sale requires 23 votes.
Making them an offer they can’t refuse? The Seattle group’s latest offer for the Sacramento Kings is based on a total team value that’s $100 million higher than the basis of its original offer — and $175 million more than the highest price ever paid for an NBA team. Total team value Group’s 65% stake Seattle group’s original offer (which Sacramento matched) $525M $341.25M Second offer $550M $357.5M Friday’s offer $625M $406.25M
Making them an offer they can’t refuse? The Seattle group’s latest offer for the Sacramento Kings involves a total team value that’s $100 million higher than its original offer — and $175 million more than the highest price ever paid for a National Basketball Association team. Total team value Group’s 65% stake Seattle group’s original offer (which Sacramento matched) $525M $341.25M Second offer $550M $357.5M Friday’s offer $625M $406.25M
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @bcondotta.
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