As expected, the Sacramento City Council tonight approved a non-binding term sheet for a new $447 million downtown arena designed to keep the NBA Kings from relocating to Seattle.
The council heard about an hour of presentation from the city, which focused on how the arena would be the focal point of an entertainment and sports complex that would revitalize downtown Sacramento, and then about another hour of public comment before voting 7-2 in favor of the term sheet. The meeting lasted roughly four hours and ended with a decidedly pro-arena crowd erupting into a chant of “Sac-ra-men-to” as it ended.
After the vote had passed, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson called it “a good day for Sacramento. We are on track to do something very historic.” He said he hopes Seattle gets a team someday and “we wish them well,” but that Sacramento is fighting for “what is ours.”
The approved term sheet will now become a key part of Sacramento’s presentations to the NBA at two meetings next month when the league will begin to consider whether to approve a sale of the Kings to a group that would relocate the team to Seattle.
Representatives of each city will meet before a select group of owners on April 3 in New York, and then again before the full NBA Board of Governors, also in New York, April 18-19.
The term sheet helps complete the package that Johnson has attempted to assemble to fight back against efforts of a group led by Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to relocate the team to Seattle, where it would be renamed the Sonics.
Hansen’s group reached agreement in January to buy the team from the current owners, the Maloof family, buying 65 percent of the team for roughly $340 million at a total valuation of $525 million.
Johnson has helped assemble an ownership group now led by Vivek Ranadive, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and also a co-owner of the Golden State Warriors. The ownership group was also bolstered this week by members of the Jacobs family, founders of Qualcomm.
The Sacramento made a counteroffer for the Kings earlier this month, a bid Stern said was not competitive. It is expected the revamped ownership group will make a bid similar to that of the Seattle group.
The NBA will vote initially on whether to approve the sale of the team to the Hansen group. If that sale is not approved, then the Maloofs would have the option of accepting the Sacramento bid.
A few opponents spoke Tuesday, including a lawyer from a group that has threatened litigation if the issue is not put to a public vote. But they were drowned out by many more who were in favor, and the council followed suit along the 7-2 lines many had predicted.