NEW YORK – Investor Chris Hansen and other Seattle area officials were set to make a formal presentation Wednesday at a New York City hotel, asking NBA owners to move the Sacramento Kings to King County.
Groups representing both Seattle and Sacramento, which is trying to keep the team, are both expected to make their pitches.
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 percent 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.
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.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, a native New Yorker, is in Seattle and will attend the presentation. King County Executive Dow Constantine also plans to be part of the face-to-face pitch.
Sacramento’s Mayor Kevin Johnson, as well as the investors in his competing bid for the franchise, will make another presentation in the afternoon.
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.
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-to-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.