Trying to nail down a deal with the Maloof family, the investors bidding to keep the Kings in Sacramento deposited 50 percent of the offering price in an escrow account Friday, a source close to the group said.
Separately, a coalition fighting Sacramento's tentative deal for a new Kings arena sued the city, claiming it's suppressing evidence of secret subsidies to the developers of the project.
The 50 percent escrow deposit for the Kings is part of the Sacramento group's effort to forge an agreement with the Maloofs for their controlling interest in the team. The group, led by Silicon Valley tech executive Vivek Ranadive, signaled Monday that the deposit was coming.
The Maloofs have already agreed to sell the team to investors from Seattle led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. But Hansen and Ballmer suffered a major setback Monday, when the NBA's relocation committee voted 7-0 to recommend against the team's proposed move to Seattle.
While Hansen's purchase agreement is still in place with the Maloofs, the Ranadive group wants to have a backup deal with the family in place by May 15. That's when the NBA board of governors, consisting of the owners of all 30 teams, is expected to make a final decision on who will buy the Kings and where they will play.
Hansen's group last month sweetened its offer to the Maloofs, to $357 million. The Sacramento group hasn't disclosed details of its bid. But in a letter to the NBA two weeks ago, the Maloofs said Ranadive's bid is $341 million - matching Hansen's original offer.
Also Friday, a group calling itself the Coalition for Responsible Arena Development sued the city of Sacramento, claiming officials are illegally withholding information about the $258 million arena subsidy tentatively approved by the City Council.
The group's lawyers, Patrick Soluri and Jeffrey Anderson, said the city ignored their request for documents under the Public Records Act. They say those documents will show that Mayor Kevin Johnson, City Manager John Shirey and other officials added secret giveaways that propel the subsidy well beyond $258 million.
City Attorney Jim Sanchez said Friday the city is providing Mr. Soluri responsive documents to his most recent records request. His request was voluminous and took city staff time to gather and make available.
The lawsuit, filed in Sacramento Superior Court, also identifies for the first time one of the coalition's members: Sacramento activist Isaac Gonzalez.
The same coalition filed a "notice of intent" a month ago signaling that it would sue to block the arena deal itself.
Call The Bee's Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.