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  • RANDALL BENTON / rbenton@sacbee.com

    Marcus Thornton and his Kings teammates can look forward to no more questions about whether they believed the franchise would be sold and moved to Seattle.

  • Mitch Toll Bee file, 1985

  • RANDALL BENTON / rbenton@sacbee.com

    Kings fan Paul Schiele holds a sign expressing his hope for the team to stay in Sacramento at a Feb. 9 game against Utah at Sleep Train Arena.

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Kings' Thompson, team employees express relief as franchise likely will stay put

Thompson and team employees express relief

Published: Tuesday, Apr. 30, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Thursday, May. 16, 2013 - 11:41 am

Finally.

Jason Thompson, the King with the most tenure in Sacramento, has an answer to the one question he was asked many times in many ways as the team's 2012-13 season – and possibly 28 years in Sacramento – came to a close.

Did he believe the team would be sold and relocated to Seattle, where the Kings would be renamed the SuperSonics?

"Definitely going to be happy not having to answer that question again," he said.

Thompson's answer – for Sacramento and the Kings – was determined Monday afternoon, when the NBA's relocation committee voted 7-0 to recommend to the league's board of governors that it deny an application from a Seattle investment group to buy and relocate the Kings.

The board of governors will meet during the week of May 13, when it is expected that the owners will follow the committee's recommendation and keep the Kings in Sacramento under new ownership with a future downtown arena in the works.

Thompson, who owns a house in Sacramento, was happy for Kings fans and happy to look forward to his sixth NBA season – one in which basketball is the primary focus.

"There have been some ups and downs from top to bottom, but at the end of the day, this is the start of something that can be good for the future," Thompson said.

News spread quickly among players and Kings employees who have spent recent seasons wondering about their future as the Maloofs looked at Anaheim, Virginia Beach, Va., and Seattle before selling to a Seattle group led by Chris Hansen.

Kings radio play-by-play man Gary Gerould saw the news on television while on the treadmill at a gym.

Television color analyst Jerry Reynolds received a phone call alerting him of the news.

"It's something Kings fans richly deserve," said Gerould, the radio voice of the team since it moved to Sacramento from Kansas City, Mo., in 1985. "I'm so happy for people who work for the Kings and the arena, and their livelihoods depend on events."

Gerould hopes Monday's news is the first step toward a new downtown arena that would house the Kings.

"Downtown Sacramento – in five years time – I don't think you're going to recognize it," Gerould said.

Reynolds has worked for the Kings in various capacities, including assistant coach, head coach and executive.

Reynolds, along with play-by-play man Grant Napear, had a teary-eyed sendoff in 2011 when the Maloofs appeared set to move the Kings to Anaheim. The team remained in Sacramento, but so did the uncertainty.

"It's obviously a great day for the city, and Mayor (Kevin) Johnson is to be commended," Reynolds said. "And I'm hopeful the Maloof family is able to get the value it wants and everyone comes out on top."

Kings basketball president and Sacramento resident Geoff Petrie, who is in the final year of his contract, declined to comment.

Like Gerould, Reynolds is eager to see a new downtown arena become reality. Traveling for years with the Kings, Reynolds has seen new arenas revitalize downtowns.

Reynolds noted Staples Center in Los Angeles and Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis as examples of how a new arena can improve a city's vibe.

"I'm fortunate enough, at my stage of life, that as long as the team stays here, it would be great," Reynolds said. "Whether I have a role or not is secondary. This is my home, and it is a major city, and a major city needs a major-league franchise and a major-league arena to attract events. … It appears that is what will happen."

The Kings staying in Sacramento is not official until the board of governors meets and the owners vote. The Seattle group needs 23 of 30 votes to win control of the team, which is not expected to happen after Monday's recommendation.

Thompson believes the Kings' fan support will only grow at Sleep Train Arena when the team's future in Sacramento is official.

"It's obviously a long time coming for a decision," Thompson said. "That's what makes (home-court advantage for the Kings) not as tough as it used to be. We need stability and where people know we're going to stay for a long time."

Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

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