It looks like the Sacramento Kings have defied all odds and will be staying in Sacramento–and the city will most likely be on the hook for $258 million to keep them.
The NBA owners’ committee on Monday unanimously voted to recommend that the Kings stay in Sacramento and not move to Seattle.
Sacramento’s owners, the Maloof family, had a deal in place with investors in Seattle and wanted the team to move to Seattle, where the team would have been called the Sonics.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former point guard for the Phoenix Suns, vowed two months ago to do all that he could to keep the team in Sacramento. Johnson has connections from his basketball-playing days and also due to his wife, Michelle Rhee, who is very well connected politically after having been the Chancellor of Washington, D.C.’s public school system.
The mayor lured investors to invest in a $447 million arena by vowing that the city would contribute $258 million to the project in a deal watchdog groups have called “seriously flawed” and harmful to taxpayers.
Johnson was able to secure various investors, and the Sacramento city council preliminary approved the term sheet that would call on the city to contribute $258 million. Watchdog groups have said the total subsidy could be as high as $334 million by the time the new arena is contructed.
The Sacramento mayor was ecstatic. Johnson first tweeted, “That’s what I’m talking about SACRAMENTO!!!!! WE DID IT!!!!!” He then said, “I’ve never been prouder of this city. I thank the ownership group, city leaders, but most of all the BEST FANS IN THE NBA!!!”
According to ESPN, “under procedure, the owners will not vote until seven days after they receive the findings of the committee, which means any decision will not become official until next week. However, the full body of owners is expected to follow the recommendation.” the board meets during the week of May 13. The Maloofs still have to ultimately sell the team the new Sacramento investment group.