Decision day for Sonics?



Posted on April 29, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 6 at 11:16 AM

SEATTLE - Monday could be decision day.

The NBA's combined relocation and finance committee are expected to discuss the future of the league's Kings franchise, and make a recommendation on their immediate future.  The teleconference is expected to last a couple of hours, and wrap up by early afternoon Seattle time.

Investor Chris Hansen has a signed purchase agreement with the Maloof family to buy 65 percent of the Kings for $341 million, and a total valuation of $525 million.  He then offered to raise that valuation to $550 million.  Hansen has already paid the Maloofs $30 million, in the form of a down payment.

That's because of the effort in Sacramento to come up with a competitive offer to keep the franchise there.  Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has led an effort to put together a $441 million term sheet, passed by that City's council, that uses $258 million in public financing to build a new downtown Sports and Entertainment complex.  Johnson and a group of investors led by Golden State Warriors owner Vivek Ranadive believe it could be enough to propel the league, and the Maloofs, to reject Hansen in favor of their "back-up" offers. 

There have been conflicting reports about whether that group's bid was binding, and included a down payment. 

It is believed that the committee, made up of 12 NBA Owners, have now reviewed both proposals and vetted the ownership groups.

They've also likely vetted both arena plans, the financing, and legal hurdles to completion.

Last week, the Seattle chapter of the ILWU signaled it has made a formal appeal of a judge's decision to dismiss the lawsuit it filed against Hansen.  That lawsuit focused on the handling of the current environmental review for the Seattle Arena proposal, scheduled for completion in November.

A spokesperson for Seattle City attorney Pete Holmes says a response will come in June, with probable hearing in July. Holmes spokesperson Kimberly Mills wrote, via email, “The City believes it will prevail, again.”

Sports Law Expert Michael McCann, NBA TV contributor, and Director of the University of New Hampshire's Law Sports & Entertainment Law Institute says "I don't expect ILWU filing of an appeal to play significant role w/ NBA decision. Appeal was expected & appeals usually fail."

A pair of California attorneys are also threatening to sue over the Sacramento proposal.

In a letter to city leaders dated April 22, Patrick Soluri and Jeffrey Anderson allege that the city has failed to respond to a public records request.  The letter continues: "It is our understanding that the investor group informed you and the Mayor that the Kings franchise was not worth the $525 million being offered by the Seattle investor group, and the investor group demanded compensation from the City in order to make up the difference between their estimated value of $400 million and the required $525 million to acquire the Kings. This secret compensation would be conveyed vis-à-vis three 'sweeteners' to the investor group that are not included in the publicly-disclosed Arena subsidy in the amount of $258 million. These three 'sweeteners,' include the conveyance of parking facilities, billboard leases and intentionally understated fair market value of the City-owned real estate."

Soluri tells KING5 he is representing a "broad coalition of people" and he already has "very credible evidence" showing what he calls a "secret subsidy."

The members of the NBA's joint relocation and finance committee include:

  • Clay Bennett - Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Jim Dolan - New York Knicks
  • Wyc Grousbeck - Boston Celtics
  • Ted Leonsis - Washington Wizards
  • Micky Arison - Miami Heat
  • Greg Miller - Utah Jazz
  • Robert Sarver - Phoenix Suns
  • Herb Simon - Indiana Pacers
  • Larry Tanenbaum - Toronto Raptors
  • Glen Taylor - Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Peter Holt - San Antonio Spurs
  • Jeanie Buss - Los Angeles Lakers

The committee, after they make their recommendation, are expected to issue a final report to the other owners.  That could take another five days, and NBA Owners would then not vote on the matter for at least another seven business days.  NBA Commissioner David Stern said last Thursday that he believes a final vote may not happen until the week of May 13.