Sacramento rejoices as NBA board rejects Kings move to Seattle
(CNN) — The Sacramento Kings won't be headed north to Seattle after all -- despite its owners reaching a deal to sell the team to a Washington state group -- after NBA executives voted Wednesday to reject such a move.
Twenty-two members of the league's Board of Governors rejected the Kings' relocation bid, while eight voted in favor.
Commissioner David Stern cited the existence of a "strong ownership group," a construction team and plan to build a new arena, plus strong support from Sacramento's mayor and others in the region, as reasons why the Kings will remain in northern California.
"I would say it's a victory for Sacramento, not the NBA," Stern told reporters, applauding the "excellent" if ultimately unsuccessful Seattle bid.
Wednesday's vote follows months of talks between members of the Maloof family, the majority owners of the Kings, and a Seattle-based group that includes investor Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
In January, these two parties reached a deal for that group to buy the Maloofs' 53% share of the team as well as minority owner Bob Hernreich's 12% stake.
But that agreement needed the OK of the NBA's Board of Governors to go through. It didn't happen.
The Maloof family and Hansen's group, though, kept on talking, leading to another deal (for a higher price) and this week's scheduled vote by the NBA board.
Meanwhile, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson -- himself a former all-star NBA guard -- kept pushing to keep the Kings in his city. That involved crafting a stadium plan and working with a group of individuals committed to keeping the team in Sacramento.
Stern said that over the "next 24 to 48 hours," NBA officials will talk to the Maloofs to try to "facilitate an agreement" for them to sell the Kings to the so-called Ranadive group, thus assuring the team remains in California.
And he vowed "fair dealing and ultimate consideration down to the road" for any future efforts to land an NBA team in Seattle, which saw its last franchise -- the Supersonics -- leave for Oklahoma City in 2008.
After Wednesday's vote, Johnson said he was excited the Kings are staying put, saying it will be a boon for his city. And he promised that he and others in Sacramento will continue working to execute their plan.
"We're going to deliver. Why? Because it's bigger than basketball," Johnson said. "We're talking economic development and job creation."