SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento's mayor rallied fans and potential investors Tuesday afternoon in a battle to keep the Kings in the city.
In 2008, Sonics fans rallied, making a desperate pitch to keep their basketball team in Seattle.
Sacramento is now in the same position to lose the Kings to Seattle, and the city is fighting back.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player, addressed the city and said he will continue to work on keeping the Kings.
“I would also caution the folks in Seattle. Don’t celebrate too early,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he has raised $19 million from prospective owners, but he acknowledged there is no concrete arena plan, and no major buyer for the Kings.
By contrast, Seattle native Chris Hansen is leading a group that will pay $340 million for majority ownership of the Kings.
Arena drawings, and the design, land and financing for a new venue in Seattle are already in the works.
KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Essex Porter spoke with Jason Reid, who chronicled the loss of the Sonics in his award-winning documentary, “Sonicsgate.”
“It’s going to take a lot to stop the freight train that has started. There’s too much momentum going right now for the team to come to Seattle,” said Reid. “When it is all said and done, if the team’s sold, then there’s very little that the fans and the politicians can do.”
Sonics fans, who faced the same loss, are now sympathetic.
“I feel a little sorry for Sacramento though, just kind of how we’re doing to them what we had done to us by Oklahoma,” said fan Eric Porter.
Now Johnson is rallying his city to keep the team.
“As long as there is time on the clock, our community always finds a way to stand up for itself,” Johnson said.
The NBA Board of Governors will have to approve the sale of the Kings and the move to Seattle.
Johnson has won permission to make a counter offer to the NBA, but he has only a few weeks before the March 1 deadline for teams to file for relocation.