SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Just bolting out of town such as the Balitmore Colts did in the middle of the night in March 1984 is not an option for the Sacramento Kings.
First some very large checks will need to be written.
“They have a loan with the city and that loan would have to be paid off,” Sacramento City Manager John Shirey said.
That loan is $64 million. If the Kings move now, they’d also owe $14 million in interest. That means the Maloofs, or new owners, would have to pay off $77 million in debt.
There is the possibility the Maloofs could bolt and try to not pay a dime.
“The Kings must stand behind,” Shirey said. “Obviously, we would take whatever action we have to to make sure that is paid.”
That legal action could mean assuming control of the Sleep Train Arena and the land it stands on. However, NBA Commissioner David Stern has said in the past the Sacramento will be made whole.
But it is not just the city that will need money from the Maloofs. The NBA would need to collect a check as well. The team has a loan with the league of what sources tell CBS13 is as much as $150 million to $219 million. There’s also a relocation fee of at a minimum $30 million that a new Sacramento ownership group would avoid.
With these large financial hurdles Mayor Kevin Johnson said he is optimistic Sacramento still has a chance.
“We believe there are a lot of advantages to keeping the team in Sacramento,” he said.
Minority owners of the Kings have not been told of a pending sale, something that must happen before a sale can be announced.
If a deal is reached, it would then go to the league for approval. That could take months.
It may not be over for Sacramento quite yet, should a deal fall through with Seattle. Sources told CBS13 that Mayor Johnson remains in talks with grocery billionaire Ron Burkle about possibly buying the Kings and keeping the team in Northern California.
“We need to put ourselves in position to find an ownership group and buyers to keep the team here in Sacramento,” Johnson said.
It should all make for an interesting several weeks before the March 1 deadline for relocation. Johnson said he’s operating on that timeline in order to identify a potential new ownership group committed to keeping the team in the Capitol City.