An unnamed source told the Sacramento Bee Friday that the bidders to keep the Kings in Sacramento have deposited 50 percent of the purchase price into an escrow account. At the same time, an activist group opposed to the arena deal filed suit, saying the city is withholding evidence of “sweeteners” to arena developers from public records.
The amount of the counteroffer has not been disclosed, but if it matches the offer of $357 million that Seattle native Chris Hansen made to the Maloof family for 65 percent of the franchise, based on an NBA record valuation of $550 million, then the deposit was about $178 million. Hansen in February put down a deposit of $30 million that was said to be nonrefundable.
Reports circulated this week that the NBA, after previous deadlines had been missed, set Friday as a deadline for Sacramento to make a deposit. The deposit was the next step after Monday’s 7-0 vote by an NBA committee to recommend denial of Hansen’s application for relocation to Seattle, where he is continuing with plans to build a new basketball/hockey arena for SoDo while upgrading KeyArena for temporary occupancy.
The deposit helps the group get closer to a deal with the Maloof family, which last month wrote a letter to the NBA saying the first offer then was well short of Hansen’s bid, and therefore unacceptable. At the April 19 meeting of the NBA Board of Governors, Commissioner David Stern said the Sacramento offer was “in the same ballpark” as the Seattle bid.
Before the Maloofs can accept the backup offer, they must first decline the Hansen offer, and that hasn’t happened. Hansen vowed on his website Monday to continue pursuit of purchasing the Kings. The parties gather in New York at a special meeting of the BOG May 15 to vote, presumably to decide the issue
Meanwhile in Sacramento, a group calling itself the Coalition for Responsible Arena Development sued the city, claiming officials are illegally withholding information about the $258 million arena subsidy tentatively approved by the city council in March
The group claims Mayor Kevin Johnson, City Manager John Shirey and others added secret “sweeteners” that put the subsidy well beyond $258 million. In the lawsuit, attorneys Patrick Soluri and Jeffrey Anderson admonish the city for ignoring a request made for documents under the state public records act.