It has been close to five years since basketball has left the city of Seattle. We may see the return of a team to the city at the beginning of next season.
According to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, The Maloof family is close to an agreement to sell the Sacramento Kings for $500 Million dollars to a Seattle-based ownership group led by hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft chairman Steve Ballmer. The group hopes to bring the team to the Emerald City.
The team would play in Seattle’s KeyArena, where the former Seattle Supersonics hosted games, starting in the 2013-14 season. The team would then transition into a new arena after two seasons.Plans to build a $490 million arena were approved last October by the City Council and the King County Council.
The deal is not done, however. According to Wojnarowski,
“No agreement has been signed, but one source with knowledge of the talks described the deal as ‘first and goal at the 1.’”
As for hopes for the team going back to their Sonics roots, there is an extreme possibility. “Clay Bennett owns the SuperSonics name and logo, but under the settlement, agreed to turn it over to a new Seattle owner at no cost”
Clay Bennett is the owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder and is the chairman of the NBA’s relocation committee.
Although the Maloofs are selling the team, they will keep a small portion of the team, but will have no say in the franchise, according to a source. The impending sale is just the latest in a series of options for the franchise.
After flirting with Las Vegas and what looked to be like a sure move to Anaheim in 2011, it was reported that the Kings had been discussing a move to Virginia Beach, where the team would’ve been an anchor tenant of a proposed arena.
Virginia Beach’s mayor set up a deadline for last Tuesday for having a deal between the Maloofs and arena developer Comcast-Spectacor down. The deadline passed and the city withdrew its support, the Maloofs explored other options.
The move would put an end to the uncertainty that has surrounded the Sacramento Kings for the past few years. This would be the fourth time the team has moved in their history, starting out in Rochester in 1945, moving to Cincinnati in 1957, then to Kansas City in 1972 before settling in Sacramento in 1985.
Sacramento’s fans aren’t going to go quietly into the dark night, though. They’ve already started a petition to keep the team should an ownership group emerge that can match the Seattle offer.