After years of shaky stewardship by the Maloof family produced numerous attempts at relocation, the Kings finally have a new ownership group committed to keeping the franchise in Sacramento.
The NBA announced Tuesday that the Board of Governors has voted unanimously to approve the sale of the Kings to a California-based group headed up by TIBCO chairman Vivek Ranadive.
"Thanks to [the] entire NBA for approving sale of Kings to our organization," Ranadive wrote in a Twitter message on Tuesday. "It is an honor and a privilege to be part of such an amazing community."
Ranadive, formerly a minority owner of the Warriors, reached an agreement to purchase the Kings from the Maloofs earlier this month at a reported valuation of $535 million. That deal came together after the Board of Governors voted to reject a proposed relocation of the franchise to Seattle by an investment group led by Valiant Capital's Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
The new Kings ownership group is wasting no time, as Ranadive will reportedly seek a new GM and a new coach this summer as he attempts to snap the franchise's streak of seven straight lottery appearances. Sacramento will select No. 7 in this year's draft.
Tuesday's vote is a bit of a formality, but it closes a months-long tug-of-war over the future of the Kings. The NBA announced a purchase and sale agreement between the Maloofs and the Seattle group back in January. That deal involved a purchase of 65 percent of the team at an overall franchise valuation of $525 million. The group later filed the requisite paperwork to relocate the franchise to Seattle for the 2013-14 season, where the organization would take on the “SuperSonics” moniker, and then upped its offer multiple times, finally settling on a $625 million valuation. The original SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder in 2008.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and a number of investors -- including Ranadive, 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, billionaire Ron Burkle and Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs -- worked diligently to keep the Kings where they are, preparing a competing offer for the Kings and agreeing to terms on a new Downtown Plaza arena deal. Kings fans organized “Here We Buy” nights to show their support for keeping Sacramento’s only major professional sports franchise in town.
NBA commissioner David Stern told reporters that those efforts swayed the Board of Governors, who followed a recommendation from the league's relocation committee by voting down the planned move to Seattle.
“The [relocation] committee recommended to the board and it was adopted that if the Sacramento community could produce a site, a construction team, a financially strong ownership group and the kind of support by the city and the region that Mayor Johnson has galvanized that the appropriate outcome was to keep the team in Sacramento and that’s what they did," Stern said. Forbes valued the Kings franchise at $300 million as recently as January 2012. The Kings franchise moved to Sacramento from Kansas City in 1985 and the Maloof family took majority control in 1999.