Sacramento, CA, United States (4E Sports) – Negotiations have started between a Seattle business group spearheaded by fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft chairman Steve Ballmer and the Maloof family for the purchase of the Sacramento Kings for a reported $500 million.
According to sources, the two sides have made significant progress in talks and both are confident that a deal will be ironed out soon.
If a deal is reached, sources said the team will now be called the Sonics and will play its first two seasons at Seattle’s KeyArena before a new arena is built.
The Seattle group is offering $500 million for the team with the Maloofs retaining a small percentage of ownership
Recently, the Maloofs have not been attending games in Sacramento, fueling speculation that a sale or a move was imminent.
However, the Maloofs refused to address the report, saying in a statement that they “will not comment on rumors or speculation about the franchise.”
Seattle has been deprived of an NBA franchise since the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder following the 2007-08 season.
In October, Seattle and King County government officials approved a deal to build a $490 million arena in Seattle with $200 million coming from taxpayers.
According to the deal, the public funds will be paid back through rent and admission taxes from the arena. If tax revenues fall below projections, “teams using the arena will make up the shortfall by paying additional rent”.
Hansen’s group wants to build the arena in the stadium district near where the Seahawks and Mariners play.
However, there is strong opposition to the arena deal, especially from a local longshore workers union, which filed a lawsuit in October arguing another arena will impact “great working class jobs.”
Two years ago, the Kings nearly moved to Anaheim but the deal crumbled in the last minute.
Last year, the Maloofs had an agreement with Sacramento City for an arena deal but they later backed out, saying it wasn’t financially feasible for their family.