NEW YORK – Investor Chris Hansen said Tuesday was one of the biggest days of his life and a “seminal moment” for Seattle. This, as he prepares to make a formal presentation Wednesday in Manhattan asking NBA owners to move the Kings to King County.
Hansen announced more than 44,000 have signed up for Sonics season tickets, since he asked for names on his website, sonicsarena.com. It will be a number he’ll bring into the morning presentation, scheduled at a Midtown Manhattan hotel. Sacramento’s Mayor Kevin Johnson, as well as the investors in his competing bid for the franchise, will make another presentation in the afternoon.
Hansen will be flanked, according to sources, by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, and will urge the NBA to follow through on the deal to acquire the franchise at a value of $525 million. Hansen’s team has a deal with the Maloof family to buy 65% of the franchise, and has already put down a $30 million down payment. Sources say the group will try to sell the NBA on the long term economic vitality of the Seattle region and corporate support.
Sacramento recently approved a term sheet for a new $447 million arena and says it has a heavyweight list of investors as well, including 24-Hour-Fitness Founder Mark Mastrov, real estate mogul Ron Burkle, and Golden State Warriors minority owner Vivek Ranadive.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, a native New Yorker, is in Seattle and will attend the presentation. He plans to campaign for his current city.
“We’re here to show we’re behind Chris Hansen,” said McGinn, who complemented his counterpart in Sacramento for his fight for the Kings. “He’s a good man and doing what he’s supposed to be doing and fight for his city.”
McGinn added, “If it was up to the mayors, the NBA would expand, but it’s the NBA that makes the rules.”
King County Executive Dow Constantine also plans to be part of the face-to-face pitch.
“It’s a big deal for our region,” said Constantine, as he strolled around Rockefeller Plaza in Midtown Manhattan on Tuesday. “I want the owners to know our commitment has not wavered since (the council approved the deal).”
Constantine acknowledged this is a high stakes game and lobbying at the highest level.
“No risk, no reward,” said Constantine. “At times you have to spend that political capital you earn.”
No matter what happens Wednesday, it is clear the legal wrangling is not over.
A pair of attorneys in Sacramento, representing a group which calls itself “Coalition for Responsible Arena Development,” says it intends to file a lawsuit over Sacramento’s recent plan. The group alleges the term sheet violates California environmental law, and the terms for a city suite at a new complex would be a “misuse of public funds for private benefit.”
Peter Goldman, an attorney for the Seattle chapter of the ILWU, also filed paperwork to speed up an appeal of the union’s lawsuit over Hansen’s proposed arena. He said he hoped it would mean the appeal could be heard in 2-3 months, as opposed to nine. Goldman said he had not had any contact with the NBA over the issue, but he would be watching the mayor’s comments in New York closely.
Chris Daniels is reporting about the NBA meeting all week in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisdaniels5.