The owners of the Sacramento Kings, the Maloof family, made official Monday what has been talked about and feared by many around the state capital. They are selling the team to a group headed by Seattle investor Chris Hansen.
“We have always appreciated and treasured our ownership of the Kings and have had a great admiration for the fans and our team members. We would also like thank Chris Hansen for his professionalism during our negotiation. Chris will be a great steward for the franchise,” said Gavin Maloof, a Kings co-owner speaking on behalf of the Maloof family.
Hansen was happier, if not explicit about his plans for the franchise.
We are happy to announce that we have entered into a binding agreement with the Maloofs to purchase a controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings NBA franchise. The sale is obviously subject to approval by the NBA Board of Governors, and we look forward to working with the League in the coming months to consummate the transaction. While we are not at liberty to discuss the terms of the transaction or our plans for the franchise given the confidential nature of the agreement and NBA regulations regarding public comments during a pending transaction, we would just like to extend our sincerest compliments and gratitude toward the Maloof family. Our negotiations with the family were handled with the utmost honor and professionalism and we hope to continue their legacy and be great stewards of this NBA franchise in the coming years and decades.
So while technically Hansen does not say the Kings are shifting to Seattle, which lost its beloved NBA Supersonics a few years ago, the deal was announced by Hansen on SonicsArerna.com and accompanied by congratulatory messages from the mayor, Mike McGinn: "This is an exciting day for our city and for Sonics fans everywhere. I congratulate Chris Hansen and his investment team. While there is more work ahead, this is a major step toward bringing the Sonics home."
ESPN reports that the Hansen group, which includes Microsoft figure Steve Ballmer, wants to play in Seattle next season. Plans for a new $500 million arena in Seattle were approved in October. If the Kings do leave, it will mark the end of major league sports in Sacramento. That's never a happy development in a city. In this case, it's especially galling because the mayor of Sacramento is former NBA player Kevin Johnson.
Photo of Chris Hansen from SonicsArena.com