Nba Introduction

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If the NBA is keeping its plans of expansion covert, planning for the day when the Kings stay in Sacramento and Seattle is eventually rewarded with the league's 31st team, then this discussion over which market is better for the league won't ultimately matter. Yet for now, and perhaps forever, that's not the case. Commissioner David Stern said last month at All-Star weekend in Houston that he didn't see a scenario in this saga where both cities wind up happy, which means this topic is front and center leading up to next month's Board of Governors meeting that will decide the outcome. To that end, a group known as "Think Big Sacramento," which works in concert with Sacramento mayor and former NBA point guard Kevin Johnson, released a report on Tuesday detailing why it sees the Sacramento market as superior to Seattle's for NBA purposes. To see the counter-intuitive-yet-compelling report. All of which qualified as a good excuse to call sports marketing expert David Carter. The Los Angeles-based Carter is the director of the University of Southern California's Sports Business Institute and a respected, objective voice on matters such as these. But before we get to his view on the matter in the interview below, a recap on the state of affairs… In order for Sacramento to keep its team, Johnson will need to convince 25% of the league's owners (in essence, eight) that the record-setting agreement from the Seattle group headed by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (a $525 million valuation for 65% of the team) should be denied. At that point, a Sacramento-based group can buy the team from the Maloof family, and keep the team where it has been since 1985. While a majority vote is needed to approve relocation, a 75% approval among owners is needed to approve a sale. Johnson has coordinated the bid to buy the team and build a new downtown arena from 24-Hour Fitness Founder Mark Mastrov and billionaire supermarket mogul Ron Burkle. There also is another Sacramento group that includes minority Kings owner John Kehriotis claiming to have the funds and wherewithal to pull it off as well or perhaps join in as a united front. The Mastrov bid is close to that of the Hansen-Ballmer group in terms of the financial amount of the offer, but no exact figures have been revealed. There are some complicated components – $77 million owed to the City of Sacramento from the Maloofs, the nonrefundable $30 million that was given to the Maloofs from Hansen-Ballmer on March 1 as a deposit – that could come into play. And while the arena plan that is being headed by Burkle isn't finalized yet, it is expected to be comparable to the one agreed on by the NBA, the Maloofs and the City of Sacramento a year ago that included approximately $255 million in public subsidies (the Maloofs backed out of the handshake deal last March). Stern, who has called himself a mere adviser in this situation -- and who consistently understates his real influence in the matter -- made two other relevant realities clear in his most recent news conference. • Seattle has nothing left to prove in terms of the legitimacy of its bid. The Hansen-Ballmer group placed an exorbitant price tag on this flailing franchise that Forbes estimated to be worth $293 million in 2011. If approved, it would set a new league record in terms of the valuation of a franchise (the Golden State Warriors were sold for $450 million in 2010 to a group headed by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber). A relocation fee, which is determined arbitrarily by the owners and was $30 million when the Seattle SuperSonics were moved to Oklahoma City in 2008, is expected to be much higher this time. Per the Hansen-Ballmer plan, the team would play in KeyArena for the first two seasons before moving to a new $490 million venue in the Sodo neighborhood. Hansen has headed the investment group that is planning the new building and involves a $200 million from the city of Seattle. The project is moving...
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