Posted on March 27, 2013 at 8:23 AM
SACRAMENTO - The Sacramento City Council took a big step Tuesday night to save the Kings franchise.
The council voted to approve a $447 million term sheet to build a new arena. The city would contribute $258 million in public resources, and private investors would contribute $189 million of the cost. The deal is non-binding, pending financial and environmental review.
The biggest deal may be what it means for Seattle’s pursuit of the Kings.
The timing was not coincidental. Sacramento’s Mayor Kevin Johnson wanted to have a deal in hand before lobbying NBA owners next week, in a formal presentation.
Seattle’s investment group, which includes Chris Hansen, and Steve Ballmer, has a purchase agreement for the franchise, and the Kings have filed for relocation to Seattle in time for next season.
Hansen’s group is also expected to make its own pitch at the meeting before a select group of NBA owners, and try to sell them on the city’s already approved arena plan.
Sources say the group will also try to sell the long term vitality of the Seattle region and the strong corporate base.
Michael McCann, an NBA TV contributor and the director of the Vermont Law Sports Law Institute, applauds Sacramento.
“It’s pretty impressive, especially in the last week or so, to put together a very strong arena proposal,” said McCann.
"[The key factor will be] the final offer for the Kings itself. If the offer from Sacramento matches or exceeds the Seattle offer, the dynamics change considerably," said McCann.
McCann also says owners will likely ask hard questions of the Seattle group, and the Sacramento bid.
“The NBA is going to say there is a non binding commitment from Sacramento. We have 15-25 follow up questions that go to whether the revenue commitment is completely legitimate, whether it’s plausible, whether it is realistic, issues of debt and financing,” said McCann.
Then there is the billion dollar question.
“The NBA would have to categorically reject Hansen and Ballmer, maybe that’s something they’d be willing to do, but let’s face it, Hansen and Ballmer are an impressive duo who have a very strong business background,” said McCann.
The NBA owners may not vote on whether to approve or reject Hansen’s deal until April 19.