BY SPNW Staff 08:41PM 03/08/2013

Stern: Sactown offer for Kings ‘not quite there’

At a press conference in Oakland, NBA Commissioner David Stern said Sacramento bid is low compared to Seattle, but expects the gap to close. New meeting April 3.

The bid submitted by a Sacramento group seeking to buy the Kings does not measure up, in dollar terms, to the deal the Kings owners have with Seattle, NBA Commissioner David Stern disclosed Friday night during a press conference at Oracle Arena in Oakland, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Stern wasn’t specific about the shortfall. Developer Chris Hansen has offered a reported $341 million to the Maloof family for a 65 percent share of the team valued at $525 million. Stern has been in contact with the Sacramento group, led by 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov and Southern California billionaire Ron Burkle, and said he believes the Sacramento group will increase its bid in the coming weeks.

“The counter bid has got very strong financial people behind it, but it is not quite there in comparison to the Seattle bid,” Stern said. “There is a substantial variance.”

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson issued a statement immediately after the commissioner’s press conference, saying he remains confident the local group will prevail. He characterized the moment as the fourth quarter.

“We appreciate the commissioner’s observation that Sacramento has made a ‘Herculean effort’ and his expression of confidence in Sacramento’s bid,” Johnson said. “We are confident that the we are well positioned given the quality of the ownership group bidding, the clear path forward we identified to build an arena and the fact that our market is one of the best performing markets in the league.”

Stern said he has set up an April 3 meeting in New York to bring some league owners in to review where the bids stand.

He said he wanted to use that meeting to avoid the sort of “chaos” that has accompanied the Kings situation in each of the last two years at the annual postseason board meetings.

The board of governors is scheduled to vote April 18 on whether to accept the Seattle purchase and permit the relocation.

Stern hinted there may be more than one bid from Sacramento investors but he did not mention names. He said he did tell current Kings minority owner John Kehriotis to “go for it,” if Kehriotis feels he can mount a competitive bid.

The commissioner was  in town to visit with Warriors officials and said Mastrov was at the tgame and he would talk with him. Stern said the Mastrov bid will have to increase “by dollar amounts” for the NBA to consider it seriously as an alternative to the Seattle deal.

Stern’s decision to publicly poke the Sacramento bid now could be seen as a way to assure that the bids will be benchmarks not only for this sale but future franchise sales.


  • Count to 10

    As expected all Stern’s comments at the all-star break about this not being a bidding war turn out to be bogus. If Sacramento needs to increase its offer to be competitive then it wasn’t good enough. if they allow Sacto to increase its bid, will the Hansen/Balmer group get to increase their offer to try and win it? We all know it’s about the money. I wish they would just own up to it instead of spewing all this crap and dragging this process out.

    • art thiel

      As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, Stern is not to be believed on matters of franchise business. Remember how he said this was the owners’ call, and he was saying out of it? Right.

      As far as dragging this out, well no. This is tracking on schedule. Stern is manipulating people and events to get the max NBA value out of the whole thing for the NBA.

      • Count to 10

        I can’t wait for him to retire. He has been successful in increasing the value of NBA franchises and, with the TV deals, they are likely going be more profitable so he is a successful commissioner from that standpoint but I really can’t stand the guy. Of course, we don’t know about the next guy and you know what say, better the devil know…

        • art thiel

          Stern is unlikely to visit Seattle in retirement, so your chance to buy him a beer is negligible.

  • What’s in it for the owner(‘)s (wallets)? Seattle’s offer = establishes a higher base value for franchises and adds immediate money to NBA owners in relocation fees. Sacramento’s offer = lower base value for franchises and no money to NBA owners in relocation fees. Maybe that is an oversimplification but am I missing something (financially)?

    • art thiel

      That’s about it, but Sac won’t have to pay back the $70M loan from city; Hansen will. How that impacts valuation for this sale and future sales is a little unclear. We don’t know if Maloofs pay or some all or none of loan independent of $525 valuation.

      Potential non-financial tiebreaker: All leagues late to relocate teams. Bad business.

  • jafabian

    It’ll be interesting to hear Hansen and Ballmer’s take on all this someday. They’re wisely being “vewy quiet” right now. But I’m wondering if they anticipated this becoming a bidding war and just how far they’re willing to go to make it happen.

    • art thiel

      It would be a good story. But their bid is in. It’s whether Sac can match in both price and arena by April 18. Unprecrdented, according to Stern.

  • Gary

    Shameless leveraging by Stern and his little circle of thieves. The fact is neither city deserves/deserved to lose their team. All the problems were self inflicted by horrible ownership/management and bad business by the league and its management. Can’t wait to hear Clay Bennetts’ approval or denial on this!…………….. EGAD!

    • Jared S.

      Yeah, this whole saga has really burnt me out on the NBA, which was my favorite sport before the Sonics theft. I don’t know what my reaction is going to be if we get a team back through ill-gotten means. For now, though, I’m pretty glued to every plot twist.

      • art thiel

        You’re a strong man, Jared.

    • art thiel

      Nice summary, Gary. Although Bennett will not be an obstacle. He would be happy that a sale of the Kings went for $525M. Makes the Thunder worth more.