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NBA approves Kings sale to Sacramento group

Sacramento KingsThe effort to bring the Sacramento Kings to a new Seattle arena hit the wall after the NBA approved the sale of the team to a group working to keep the team in California.

The sale of 65 percent of the Kings to a group led by TIBCO Software chairman Vivek Ranadive was approved unanimously yesterday by the league Board of Governors. The sale by the Maloof family values the franchise at $535 million. Ranadive’s group includes 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, former Facebook executive Chris Kelly and members of the Jacobs family, which owns Qualcomm.

Chris Hansen had a deal to buy the Kings at a higher valuation; his plan was to move the Kings to a new Seattle arena and revive the SuperSonics name. However, in May the Board of Governors rejected that plan by a 22-8 margin, leaving the Ranadive group as the only viable alternative for the Kings.

This doesn’t solve all the problems for the Kings. The team will still need to work with the city on an arena plan. Mayor Kevin Johnson had pitched the league on a new $447 million downtown arena, with the city kicking in $258 million from the lease of parking revenues to a private party. There’s no formal agreement between the city and the Kings, however; the plan was pitched to the NBA on a non-binding basis.

For Hansen and Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer, the quest for an NBA franchise will continue, but the path is considerably narrowed. With no teams seemingly on the quest for a new home (though there is at least one team whose future may be in doubt), the pair will need to push expansion as a solution — and that’s not an easy prospect, according to Hansen, per a post on the website:

When we began our efforts in 2011, we went into it knowing that above all else it would take patience. The process involved in getting an Arena built in our city is without question a difficult and time consuming one. Likewise, with the prospects for expansion unclear, the path for returning an NBA franchise to Seattle was likely to prove even more difficult and require even more patience. Thus, even as we are disappointed with the developments related to our efforts to purchase the Kings, we would just like to reiterate our dedication to bringing the NBA back to Seattle. We will continue to press forward with our Arena plans with the same commitment and effort we have over the last two years, and look forward to working with the City and County to see the project through the hurdles that remain. Likewise, we plan to continue to work with the League regarding opportunities that may arise to return an NBA franchise to our City.

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