NEW YORK – NBA Commissioner David Stern emerged from the league offices Wednesday and told reporters it could be a few weeks before a decision is made on the future of the Sacramento Kings. This after the NBA’s combined relocation and finance committee met for almost four hours to discuss the Seattle bid, and the potential counter proposal from a Sacramento group.
Former Sonics owner, and current Thunder owner, Clay Bennett was also in the meeting and described it as a “good” meeting. Peter Holt, who chairs the governing body of the NBA, called the Board of Governors, also said the league was “not even close” to making a decision. He also told reporters expansion has “not off the table” for the league.
There are differing opinions about the Sacramento counter bid, which has been cobbled together over the past few months. Stern answered, “Yes,” in response to a question, about whether he group was willing to put in a down payment for the franchise. Holt, however, said it had not made a payment.
Chris Hansen has submitted a $30 million, non-refundable deposit to the Maloofs for the purchase of the Kings franchise. It has since filed for relocation to Seattle.
A source with knowledge of the negotiations said on Wednesday that the Sacramento bid was “non-binding”, did not include a deposit, and did not match the offer from Hansen. The source also said that the Sacramento group wants the Maloof family to terminate the deal with Hansen before entering into any binding agreement. The source suggested the Maloofs have rejected that request. The same source said the Sacramento group, led by Golden State Warriors owner Vivek Ranadive, was having trouble coming up with the money to solidify their counter bid, and had asked for more time to close the deal.
The combined committee is expected to make a recommendation on the franchise purchase and relocation. Stern said the league owners would wait at least a week to vote after receiving the recommendation.
Meanwhile, Hansen’s real estate consultant Bill Vipond made a statement claiming a major hurdle had been reached for the group. “We’re done,” said Vipond Wednesday after Hansen’s WSA Properties closed Wednesday on the final piece of land needed for a new Arena.
Hansen will buy three lots just east of 1st Avenue South for $9,024,600. They were previously owned by Coast Crane Properties, and Hansen’s team already had an option to buy the land at 1746 & 1760 1st Avenue South. It currently houses ‘Mac’s Smokehouse, and the 1st Avenue Deli. The deal was finalized only after Hansen’s group arranged lease separation terms with the current tenants. The 45,000 square feet involved, would be the southwest corner of Hansen’s proposed Arena development. It is currently under environmental review.
It means Hansen will have acquired more than $65 million in land for his arena project. Hansen’s real estate consultant Bill Vipond says the soft costs, including legal fees, will push the price between $70 to $80 million.
“It’s been two and half years of work. We’re done. We own everything we need to own.” said Vipond. Hansen’s team believes this also sends a message to the NBA, which is deliberating the next few days over the Seattle Arena plan, Hansen’s bid for the Kings franchise, and a counter bid from Sacramento.
Vipond says all the land was paid for with cash, and is not financed. He says there is not one bank loan involved.
“That’s commitment,” he said.
A source close to the ongoing negotiations with the NBA says Hansen has argued Sacramento cannot compete with his level of investment, and land acquisition. Hansen has a purchase agreement for 65% of the Kings franchise, at a cost of $341 million. The team would be valued at $525 million. He recently agreed to raise the valuation to $550 million. The deal needs league approval. Hansen’s group separately also will purchase 7% of the franchise, pending league approval, at a cost of $15.1 million. A Sacramento investor failed to match the bid for the share, which was part of a California Bankruptcy proceeding.
Sacramento County Assessor records still show multiple owners for the parcels listed in the designated Sacramento Arena location. It’s unclear, based on records, whether all the needed land has been formally acquired by the same person or group.