With Sacramento and Seattle wrestling over the Kings' future, The Bee and the Seattle Times co-hosted a live online chat Monday to discuss the latest on the NBA drama.
Business editor Mary Lynne Vellinga, columnist Marcos Breton and reporter Dale Kasler represented The Bee. Seattle Times reporters Lynn Thompson and Bob Condotta weighed in from Seattle. An excerpt follows:
Kevin: Won't all this basically (boil) down to a decision by the NBA brass regardless of whatever deep pockets the Sacramento area can put together? Kasler: Of course. NBA has final say. But Sacramento has to bring its deep-pockets investors to the table for there to be any realistic chance that the league would turn down the Seattle move.
Shawn: I know the people in Sacramento are still holding out some hope, but the team has been sold to >(hedge fund manager Chris) Hansen. The effort to try to get local investors to step up to buy the team are too little, too late in, my opinion. The team's been sold. > Condotta: That's certainly what the Hansen group is banking on. And you are correct that there is little historical precedent for turning down that sort of a deal. But if (Sacramento Mayor) Kevin Johnson can come up with a viable ownership group and arena plan, he will appeal to the NBA's sense of loyalty to Sacramento and force the NBA to make what could be a tough call there.
>Debbie: If Sacramento comes up with an offer higher then Seattle's, would the Maloofs be able to accept that deal? Or is the only way Sacramento's offer would be accepted dependent on the NBA's say? > Condotta: At this point, the Maloofs have what is reported as a "binding agreement" with the Hansen group. So at this point, the only way that end of it falls through is if the NBA does not approve the sale, forcing the Maloofs to then look for another buyer.
>Roughrider_MAC: How come the attendance is down in Sac? Because team not playing well or because the other California teams are playing better & more exciting? > Vellinga: Attendance for Kings games used to be very high, but it has fallen off due to the team's performance, uncertainty over whether it will be here and general unhappiness with the way the owners have conducted themselves. Breton: The low attendance is a manifestation of the terrible ownership in Sacramento. The Maloofs have let the product and the arena erode completely. And once they killed an arena deal last year, public sentiment really turned against them. Many people, myself included, do not want to put money in their pocket in any way.
>Joel Uher: Are Seattle sports fans excited about having an NBA team come to town again or are they (leery) this could all fall apart? > Thompson: Seattle fans are very excited about the possibility of getting a team back again. On the other hand, both Hansen and local politicians have been clear that there are a lot of hurdles remaining. Hansen has to finalize a deal for the team, the environmental impact statement has to show that the arena won't cripple port operations, and the NBA has to approve the sale and relocation.
>Jon: (NBA Commissioner David) Stern learned his PR lesson from the Sonics moving, so he'll meet with KJ (Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson) etc., to put a nice wrapping on it > Kasler: I honestly don't think Stern is just doing this as a courtesy to the mayor. He is urging Ron Burkle to get involved as an owner that's billionaire Ron Burkle.
>Brad: Can't believe the misconception in Sac. People there are under the belief all that needs to happen is a Sac investor coming up with a few hundred million, to "match." Why do people there feel that way? > Breton: The plain truth is that none of us knows what would happen if Sacramento came up with a counteroffer to match Hansen. We're all speculating at this point.
Replay the full chat at www.sacbee.com/kingsblog.