Seattle Might be Getting an NBA Team at the Expense of Sacramento

Are the Supersonics coming back? Still too soon to tell, but it looks like Chris Hansen, leading a group of buyers, are about to complete the purchasing of the Sacramento Kings, which will move the franchise to Seattle.

The 2007-2008 season was the last we’ve seen of the Seattle Supersonics, who then packed up their things and left to Oklahoma City, just as Clay Bennett, leading a group of inverstors to buy the Supersonics with the intention of moving them from the Northwest, knowing very well that the city wasn’t going to build him a new arena. David Stern will always have a black spot on his resume as far as Seattle fans are concerned.

And the Kings seem like the next team to be on the move. It’s been in the air for a few years now. The Maloof brothers haven’t been doing a great job of running the team, half-punishing the city for not finding a solution to their arena problem. The Kings play in the Sleep Train Arena, which was opened in 1988 and can hold 17,317. The Kings have been playing there ever since, after moving from Kansas City and prior to that Cincinnati and Rochester.

The Kings have the lowest average attendance in the NBA, with 13,177 fans per game, filling 76.1% of the venue’s capacity. The Kings had a run of 8 consecutive playoff appearances between 1999 and 2006, but haven’t won more than 38 games in a season since, finished at 22-44 last season and are currently at a 13-22 record this season.

While there’s no arguing about the potential assembled in the squad, that’s been the talk for a few years. For numerous reasons, including the growing disinterest from the owners towards the team, things haven’t been able to improve.

And how much is a failing NBA franchise going to cost? Somewhere near $500 million, which means that the Maloofs are going to get that for doing a bad job for quite a long time. They’ve been backing out of commitments to the city of Sacramento over the last few years and at a growing rate since the folding of the WNBA team Sacramento Monarchs.

Chris Hansen and his group have already reached an agreement to build a $490 million arena near the city’s other stadiums: CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field, but no construction will begin until a team is secured. The group will probably invest $290 million in private investment toward the arena, along with helping to pay for transportation improvements in the area around the stadiums. he remaining $200 million in public financing would be paid back with rent money and admissions taxes from the arena, or through Hansen himself if the revenues fall short of projections.

While people in Seattle have already begun celebrating, Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento, is anything but. The former NBA star has promised to do anything in his power to find a buyer for the team with a Sacramento connection, and keep the team where it’s been for the past 27 years. The Sonics were in Seattle for 40 years, winning an NBA title in 1979 and making the finals again in 1996, before being moved to Oklahoma City.