Reporters Lynn Thompson and Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times and columnist Marcos Breton and Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee answered...
Reporters Lynn Thompson and Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times and columnist Marcos Breton and Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee answered readers’ questions about the sale of the Kings and the NBA in Seattle in a live chat. Some highlights:
Q: What’s your take on (24 Hour Fitness founder) Mark Mastrov?
Breton: My take on Mastrov is still evolving. He clearly wants in on an NBA ownership group. As I type this, he is in Sacramento to meet with potential local investors for the Kings.
Q: I’ve heard different takes on the “first right of refusal.” Is that still an issue?
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Kasler: Yes, the “right of refusal” is still an issue. A bankruptcy trustee who’s auctioning a 7 percent share of the Kings says limited partners have a right to match an offer.
Q: Why has Kings attendance fallen off?
Breton: The low attendance is a manifestation of the terrible ownership in Sacramento. The Maloofs have let the product and the arena erode completely. And once they killed an arena deal last year, public sentiment really turned against them.
Q: How bad of shape is Sleep Train Arena actually in?
Condotta: The arena desperately needs work. But there’s also no reason to do that work when everyone knows that the city needs a new arena to keep the team. At this point, the condition of Sleep Train Arena really doesn’t matter much.
Q: Are Seattle sports fans excited about having an NBA team come to town again or are they leery this could all fall apart?
Condotta: Given what happened with the Sonics, I think there is huge skepticism about anything NBA-related in Seattle. I think the general sports fan is hopeful but also understands there’s a long way to go. Most just want the process to be over with, which I imagine is a sentiment shared there.
Thompson: Seattle fans are very excited about the possibility of getting a team back again. On the other hand, both Hansen and local politicians have been clear that there are a lot of hurdles remaining. Hansen has to finalize a deal for the team, the environmental impact statement has to show that the arena won’t cripple port operations, and the NBA has to approve the sale and relocation.
Q: Ten years from now, who will be viewed more negatively — the Maloofs or Howard Schultz?
Condotta: Probably depends on where you live. Given that there seems to be a new Starbucks opening up somewhere every second of every minute of every hour of every day, it hasn’t hobbled Schultz all that much in most places.
Q: So no public money is involved in Hansen’s deal?
Thompson: The city of Seattle and King County are loaning the Hansen group $200 million in public funds to be repaid from revenues from the arena, so we are supposed to get a full return on our investment.
Q: Fact or fiction: The relocation needs a majority vote from the NBA Board of Governors and the sale needs a three-quarters vote?
Kasler: Yes, it’s a three-quarters vote to approve a new owner and simple majority to approve a relocation. It’s theoretically possible that they could approve Hansen as an owner but not approve the relocation, but seems kind of far-fetched. NBA has criteria for vetting owners and relocation proposals, but they are fairly subjective.