SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A new report emerged Friday of a handshake deal that would move the Sacramento Kings to Seattle, but that hasn’t stopped local investors from expressing their interest in keeping the team in the Capitol City.
As Kings fans well know, a handshake deal with the Maloofs is far from a done deal, but Seattle remains a major threat to steal the only major professional sports franchise this city has ever known.
The probability of Sleep Train Arena going dark for good and the Kings skipping town seems to be only growing as the reports of the Maloofs selling the team continue.
The latest has Comcast Sports Net Bay Area reporter Matt Steinmetz saying there is a deal with the Maloofs and the group led by billionaire hedge-fund investor Chris Hansen Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer at the price of $525 million.
“I can only tell you that they ended up with a handshake agreement with the Hansen-Ballmer group,” Steinmetz said on CBS Radio 1140.
But Sacramento knows all too well that handshake deals with the Maloofs can fall through. In Orlando last year, the Maloofs and Mayor Kevin Johnson celebrated a deal to build a new arena in downtown Sacramento. Less than two months later, the Maloofs backed out.
CBS has learned local are working on putting together offers. Sources say Ron Burkle’s team is still working to make a strong pitch to snag the Kings, but other local groups are emerging as well.
Mark Mastrov, the founder of 24 Hour Fitness founder, is on the record as saying he’d be interested in buying the team. Sleep Train owner Dale Carlsen, the arena’s naming rights sponsor, has also expressed interest in keeping the team in Sacramento, although he downplayed his role in a Sacramento Business Journal report, saying someone else would have to write the big check.
Former Kings executive Greg Van Dusen told CBS13 he and his group will go to the NBA with a matching offer to persuade NBA officials that Sacramento should be able to keep its team.
It certainly is not over for Sacramento until a majority of the NBA owners approve any deal to allow the sale of the Kings to Hansen’s group.
The Maloof brothers have continued to stay in hiding through it all this week, refusing to comment and no longer attending the team’s games.