Word on the street is that the Sacramento Kings are headed to Seattle.
Hoopsvibe quick call: Seattle fans are passionate about their sports teams, and they should have the Supersonics to route for.
This past September, I published an article about Seattle's plans to get a basketball and hockey team in town by 2014. At the time, we didn't know which teams; but thanks to Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo! Sports, we now have a pretty good idea that it will be the Kings who will be taking their talents to the Pacific Northwest. (Still no word on which hockey team the city is looking to acquire).
Wojnarowski broke the news over an hour ago when he reported that the Maloof family, current owners of the Sacramento Kings, are very close to finalizing a deal that would move the team to Seattle.
"The Maloofs are finalizing an agreement to sell the Sacramento Kings to the Hansen-Ballmer led Seattle group, sources tell Yahoo! Sports." Wojnarowski tweeted earlier this afternoon.
The Hansen-Ballmer Seattle group is led by wealthy hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer. If the deal goes through as reported, the Hansen/Ballmer led group will purchase the Kings from the Maloof family for roughly $500 million and will move the team immediately, so that they will be in Seattle by the 2013-14 NBA season. The goal has always been to have the team renamed the Supersonics, and to have the franchise playing in Seattle's Key Arena for the next two seasons before they move the team into a brand new Seattle arena, for which they have already secured the financing.
The Hansen-Ballmer group, which reportedly includes a few members of the Nordstrom department store family as well, has already committed to providing a $290 million private investment for the new arena and has developed plans for the remaining $200 million in public financing to come from rent money and admissions taxes. Hansen's group has also agreed to contribute funds for transportation improvements in the downtown area surrounding the arenas and to pony up more money if the public financing isn't enough.
With the financial plan approved, all that was left was finding a team. Well now that they've found a team in the Kings, the last hurdle to get over is reaching an agreement with the Maloof family, who have a history of trying to sell the team and subsequently backing out at the last minute. However, according to sources close to the matter, the deal is close to being done.
According to reports, the Maloof's will maintain a very small ownership percentage of the team, but won't have any say in team management or decision making.
The city of Seattle and it's fans have been desperate to get the Supersonics back since the franchise moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder in 2008. There has always been a bitterness from Seattle faithful toward OKC, who are now one of the best teams in the league. Imagine how electrifying the atmosphere would be when the Thunder came to Sea-town to play the Supersonics??!!
That would be as crazy of a sports environment as you could get.