A committee of NBA owners voted unanimously today to block the pending sale and relocation of the Sacramento Kings, likely ensuring that the team will stay put.
The NBA confirmed that its combined relocation and finance advisory committee, composed of 12 owners, voted down the Maloof family's proposed sale of the Kings to hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who planned to move the team to Seattle.
The full Board of Governors isn't expected to vote on the Kings until around May 13, but the committee's recommendation will surely be influential. The Hansen-Ballmer group needs 23 of 30 owners' votes to get control of the team.
Today's vote followed a two-hour conference call by committee members -- and came after months of unprecedented arm wrestling over the lowly Kings. The Maloofs agreed in January to sell their 65 percent share to the Hansen group for $341 million. Hansen upped the offer to $357 million earlier this month.
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A group of eight investors recruited by Mayor Kevin Johnson and led by Palo Alto software executive Vivek Ranadive submitted a proposal to keep the team in town. The deal matched Hansen's original offer of $341 million, according to a letter the Maloofs sent earlier this month to the NBA.
Both cities pitched multimillion-dollar subsidies for new arenas, with the Sacramento City Council tentatively approving a $258 million subsidy. Seattle, which lost its SuperSonics to Oklahoma City in 2008, offered the larger and richer market. But Sacramento touted its long record of loyalty to the NBA and its status as a one-team town.