Five days before NBA owners vote to decide the future of the Sacramento Kings, Seattle investor Chris Hansen has increased his bid to buy the team by $75 million.
“In an effort to further demonstrate the extent of our commitment to bring basketball back to Seattle, we have elected to voluntarily increase our proposed purchase price for the Sacramento Kings NBA Franchise by $75 million,” Hansen wrote on his website.
Hansen’s latest offer would raise the total value of the team to $625 million. It’s the second significant increase from Hansen and his team, which includes Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and several Nordstrom brothers.
Hansen has a written agreement with the Maloof family, the majority owners of the Kings, to buy their 65 percent share. Hansen’s increased bid Friday means he is offering an additional $48.75 million, bringing his total offer to more than $406 million.
The move comes nearly two weeks after the NBA’s relocation committee voted unanimously to reject the Kings move to Seattle.
It also follows an agreement to forgo revenue sharing and give back tens of millions of dollars to the league by the rival investment group vying to keep the Kings in Sacramento. But Hansen said he is willing to do the same.
“In conjunction with our revised offer, we have also guaranteed to the NBA that the Franchise would be a revenue sharing payer in all years in Seattle,” said Hansen.
Numerous reports have said the Sacramento group, led by software tycoon Vivek Ranadive, has continued seeking investors and has been having trouble raising the money to match Hansen’s earlier bid.
“If the Sacramento group has been having trouble putting the money together before, it may be tougher for them to get an extra $40 or $50 million as it breaks down in the valuation to match this bid,” said KING 5’s Chris Daniels on KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show.
But sports law expert and NBA analyst Michael McCann tells KIRO Radio Hansen’s bid might not actually influence the owner’s decision, because they could be voting next week on previous bids, not the latest.
“Is it the original offer that was submitted to the NBA? Is it the revised offer I think on April 30, or is it this latest offer. And these are three very different price points for the league to consider.”
Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson said his group remains “very confident” in a statement of his own:
“The NBA leadership and owners have always said that their decision would not be dictated by a bidding war. This was always about whether Sacramento, a community that has supported the NBA for 28 years, can put together a plan and organization to ensure the franchise can rebuild and thrive. The ownership group, the city, and the community have shown the NBA, without any shred of doubt, that the Sacramento Kings belong in Sacramento. I believe the NBA owners realize that there is far more to think about than just an increased bid. They know what this story means to the league. We look forward to talking with all of them again in Dallas.”
Earlier this week, Johnson said at a news conference “take the high road and be gracious” by taking a “step back” and give up its effort for the Kings.
The Maloof family has said repeatedly they want the league to approve the Hansen deal. The NBA can’t force the family to accept a counter-offer from the Sacramento group.
Forbes Magazine estimated the value of the Kings at $293 million just one year ago. Raising it to $625 would make it the sixth most valuable franchise in the league, and also increase the value of all other NBA franchises. That could make it extremely difficult for NBA owners to turn down.
“We’re not even talking yet about a relocation fee and paying off a loan down in Sacramento,” said Daniels. “And that’s why the Sacramento group has felt all along they could come in with a lower number.”
Supporters of the effort to bring the NBA back to Seattle argue the league has violated antitrust laws by potentially interfering with the legally binding sales agreement between Hansen’s group and the Maloofs.