Investor Chris Hansen, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, and local leaders have made their pitch to NBA owners in New York. Confidence was high following the meeting.
“We appreciate the NBA has a tough decision to make and we’re hopeful for an outcome in our favor,” Hansen told reporters at a briefing after the meeting.
“We made a very strong case that Seattle, King County and our region are an excellent place for the NBA to be,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said.
Hansen made a lengthy presentation about his bid to buy the Kings and partner with the city and county to build a new arena. Owners then asked a number of questions.
“They clearly wanted to know that the two governments, the city and county governments, remained committed to the positions they took and the votes last year. We assured them they did,” said Constantine.
But at a separate news conference later in the afternoon, NBA Commissioner David Stern made it clear both sides made strong presentations and a decision wouldn’t come easy.
Hansen and the others refused to discuss specific questions asked by NBA owners, saying only that they touted Seattle’s vibrant economy. And he said he remains confident.
“I think my confidence is really just from the fact we’ve really been working on this very hard for two-and-a-half years and I think you really have to appreciate that 883 days to be exact since we started on this mission,” Hansen said.
He was followed by Ballmer, who finished with “something I would call a characteristically energetic and enthusiastic presentation,” said Constantine.
McGinn said he assured NBA commissioner David Stern there was no animosity between Seattle and the league for the Sonics sale and move to Oklahoma City.
“I went to David Stern and let him know it’s a different day in Seattle,” said McGinn.
“One of the things that became more and more evident is there’s a lot more information and certainty around the Seattle proposal because it’s been under development for more than two years,” said Constantine.
George Maloof, co-owner of the Kings, also spoke to the owners, telling them the family remains fully committed to the sale to Hansen, Constantine said.
Hansen disclosed he has been working with former Sonics GM Wally Walker behind the scenes on the effort to return the NBA to Seattle. Walker was part of the ownership and management team at the helm when the Sonics were sold to Clay Bennett and ultimately moved to Oklahoma.
“Sometimes you have to lose something you really hold precious and dear to really realize how much that really means to you,” said Hansen about his emotions following the presentation.
The Seattle group was followed by a large contingent from Sacramento, making their own case to keep the Kings.
One of the lead investors, Vivek Ranadive, said he’s humbled by the outpouring of support in California.
“We assembled a team, who’s who of people, from all parts of the state to support a bigger cause than any one person and that was to keep the Kings in Sacramento,” said Ranadive. “They gave us a very fair hearing…and we’re excited.”
Hansen released a statement following the meeting on his website:
Before we head to the airport to catch our flights home I just wanted to let you all know our presentation this morning went very well and we leave NYC with a feeling of great optimism. Being able to demonstrate the breadth and depth of support from all of you was a critical part of our presentation. You should all be very proud of what you have helped make possible. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.
I also want to thank Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine for helping us make our case. Their presence here today was a clear demonstration of the great political support for bringing our Sonics home. #GoSonics
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