DALLAS – The folks in Seattle will get another NBA team one day.
It just won’t happen under commissioner David Stern’s watch.
The NBA owners voted 22-8 on Wednesday to keep the Kings in Sacramento during a meeting
held at the Hilton Anatole. The vote came despite the fact that the Seattle group led by Chris Hansen put up a higher bid than a Sacramento group, which is led by Silicon Valley billionaire Vivek Ranadive and Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson.
So, despite a higher and NBA-record bid of $625 million, a promise to build a new arena and an offer to kick in an additional relocation payout fee of over $4 million for each of the 30 owners, somehow the Seattle group failed to prusuade the owners to vote in its favor?
“I mean, Chris Hansen did everything he said he would do plus more,’’ said Stern, who plans to retire
in February. “Steve Ballmer (part of Hansen’s group) couldn't have been more supportive, and in a good way, just all‑in in the effort.
“We have and retain a very good relationship with both of them, and we anticipate a continued relationship of some type.’’
Stern all but said that once the group from Sacramento went full-bore and was all-in into keeping the Kings in Sacramento, it was going to be difficult for anyone to pry the Kings away from Sacramento. Especially when money was put into escrow and property was secured to build a new arena in
“I think that once Sacramento got engaged in doing this and being able to deliver on the promise, which didn't really exist when the original deal was made in Seattle, that the principal advantage to the incumbent was going to prevail, looking back with hindsight,’’ Stern said. “Nobody really thought that the property could be acquired, that the second site could be acquired, that the money could
be put into escrow, all kinds of things, or that the size and strength of the group that ultimately was in Sacramento, would likely emerge.
“So kudos to Vivek Ranadive and actually to all of the owners who were here. . .So it was advantage incumbent. Nobody had any doubt that the same or similar thing could happen in Seattle. It was just do you give the edge to a city that has a 28‑year history of support?’’
That’s certainly no consolation prize to Seattle, who failed five years ago in preventing the Sonics from leaving Seattle and moving to Oklahoma City.
With Adam Silver set to replace Stern next season, the current commissioner has no doubts basketball will return to the Emerald City.
“This was very difficult because the board and the committee was presented with a very strong Seattle bid from a very strong Seattle group, and they were faced with something else of a similar nature from Sacramento which are detailed,’’ Stern said. “ And that just was a lot of to and fro', lot of ex‑spouts from experts, a lot of legal analysis, a lot of document analysis.
“This was just a lot of work over a longer period of time than I hope ever happens again for Adam's sake.’’
So how does Seattle attract an NBA franchise after almost opening the bank to the NBA this time around?
“Well, I guess that's an ongoing conversation that I think would best be had by Commissioner‑elect Silver, and then Commissioner Silver and the powers that be in Seattle and interested purchasers,’’ Stern said. “There have been, from time to time, several interested purchasers.’’
Silver chimed in by saying: “The only thing I’d add is we've never wavered in our desire to return to the Seattle market at some point, as Chris Hansen made clear in his presentation to the Board of Governors today. The league continues to enjoy strong support in the Seattle market.
“We have strong support for our telecast, our national telecast in Seattle, and expansion was discussed at least as a possibility down the road. We want to wait and see what happens in our
next national television negotiation, but we're very appreciative of the fans in Seattle, and we've regretted having to leave the market the last time and we fully expect we'll return there one day.’’
-- Dwain Price
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