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Seattle Deal Remains Murky; Will Maloofs Entertain Local Offer For Kings?

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Steve Large Steve Large
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SEATTLE (CBS13) – With ever-present clouds hanging over Seattle’s skyline Thursday, the cloudiness over any deal by the Chris Hansen-led investor group to buy the Sacramento Kings is also not clearing a day after reports first surfaced that an agreement was close.

There is no deal in place now, despite a Yahoo! Sports reporter saying Wednesday that it was all but finalized.

The Seattle Times is now reporting the Maloofs want some operational control as minority owners before they sell their majority stake to billionaire Hansen, a Seattle native who is intent on bringing NBA basketball back to his home city.

“With Chris Hansen emerging and providing some leadership, people have just found a passion,” Brian Robinson said.

Robinson is a leader in a Seattle grassroots movement called “Arena Solution.”

“I think that people are feeling optimism and riding the roller coaster,” he said. “I just want people to know we don’t want to be part of things going south in Sacramento.”

Hansen has the green light to build his $500 million new basketball arena in an industrial area of the city.It almost looks like the Sacramento railyards, but it’s manufacturing land in an area called the SoDo district. This is where the Kings’ arena would be if in fact they end up here.

There are only two hurdles stopping a new arena from going up – an environmental review and a team to play in it. Hansen’s group is also only allowed to begin building if he’s secured a franchise to play here.

Back in Sacramento, it’s a familiar sight these days – the Maloof’s courtside seats are filled with somebody other than the Kings owners.

This is déjà vu from the winter of 2011, when the Maloofs were working on a deal to relocate the team to Anaheim. That spring, Mayor Kevin Johnson sank a last-second three-point shot to give Sacramento life and hope of keeping the Kings.

“When a group of people believe, you can overcome any obstacle, and that is what our community did. We hit a big shot,” he said at the time.

But will there be another overtime for Sacramento? Johnson says he has investors lined up. One of them is grocery billionaire Ron Burkle.

Sources say the Pittsburg Penguins owner is working hard to come up with a plan to make a better offer than the Seattle group led by Hansen, but will Burkle even be able to get on the court to take a shot at the team?

Gavin Maloof was not open to talks with Burkle in 2011.

“Tell Ron Burkle he can go back to where he came from,” he said then. “We like him, but we are not selling.”

If Burkle can meet with the Maloofs, an all-out bidding war may take place. Reports reveal Hansen has already offered $500 million. Burkle can certainly match that. He’s worth more than $3 billion.

Hansen will also have to pay upwards of $100 million to relocate the team, something Burkle will not need to do if keeping the Kings in Sacramento.

That means Burkle can outbid the Seattle group by nine digits.

Meanwhile, the Sacramento grassroots “Here We Stay” campaign has changed its name to “Here We Buy” and is circulating a petition asking NBA Commissioner David Stern to allow a local group to match any offer made for the Kings.

The clock is ticking if the team is going to be playing anywhere other than Sacramento next season. The team has until March 1 to file for relocation.

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