Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson announced to screaming throngs of Kings fans that the deal to sell the NBA franchise to a group led by software entrepreneur Vivek Ranadive has been signed.
The statement at a City Hall rally brings to a close just about 5 months of maneuvering by Johnson to secure a new ownership group, convince the council to commit to building a new downtown arena, and to show the NBA that the capitol city of the most populous state in the nation has the fan base to make the enterprise successful.
”This was one heck of a comeback,” Johnson, an ex NBA All-Star, said on a stage shared with 2 dozen investors, fans and politicians who had worked to keep the franchise in the city.
Last week, NBA owners rejected a bid to move the franchise to Seattle. Investor Chris Hansen, whose agreement to buy the team from the Maloof family and move them to the Pacific Northwest shocked the city in January, fought to acquire the team to the bitter end. He even negotiated to buy a minority share when it became clear the league opposed relocation.
Johnson announced that the deal reached between the Maloofs and the Ranadive group did not include an investment from Hansen.
NBA Commissioner David Stern praised Hansen’s proposal and said the NBA might consider expansion once a new TV deal is in place.
The mayor was conciliatory toward Seattle, but stated that he focused throughout the talks on promoting Sacramento as prospering town with 19 sellout seasons, one of the longest streaks in the NBA.
”Seattle is a great city and we want them to get a team. For us, it was never a competition. It was about our community telling our story,” Johnson said, adding: ”It’s about not letting somebody take something that is not theirs.”
The NBA is expected to officially approve the sale next week. Baseball scores
A person familiar with the deal previously expounded that the Maloofs had reached an agreement to sell a 65% controlling interest at a total franchise valuation of $535 million. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk in public.
The plan for the Sacramento Kings’ future contains a $447 million downtown arena that’ll be built on at the western gateway to the city near the Sacramento River.
The Sacramento ownership group also includes 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, former Facebook senior executive Chris Kelly and the Jacobs family that owns communications giant Qualcomm.