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With the finalization of the Sacramento Kings' sale to a Seattle-based ownership group, the NBA's relocation committee will overwhelmingly ratify the franchise's move to Seattle for the 2013-14 season, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The new ownership group, led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, will purchase 65 percent of the Kings at a franchise valuation of $525 million. The new owners will file for relocation to Seattle before the March 1 deadline, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The Seattle group's plan is to play the next two seasons in KeyArena before moving into a new $500 million arena in downtown Seattle in 2015, sources said.
The new Seattle owners will bring back the franchise's longtime Sonics name and colors.
Yahoo! Sports reported on Jan. 9 that the Maloof family was finalizing a deal with the Hansen-Ballmer group to sell the franchise, and ultimately relocate it to Seattle. A formal announcement is expected this week, sources said.
The relocation committee has been briefed several times on the sale process to the Hansen-Ballmer group, sources said, and fully support the franchise moving to Seattle for next season.
The relocation committee is chaired by Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett, and includes Washington's Ted Leonsis, Minnesota's Glen Taylor, Utah's Greg Miller, Miami's Mickey Arison, Indiana's Herb Simon and San Antonio's Peter Holt. Bennett moved the Sonics from Seattle to Oklahoma City in 2008.
The NBA's Board of Governors support this ownership group, want a team back in the Seattle market and will approve the sale at the next league meeting, sources said.
While NBA commissioner David Stern did work dutifully to find a way to keep the Kings in Sacramento for several years, the league was pushing the Maloof family to sell their 53 percent ownership share, and wanted badly for them to exit the league as owners, sources said. The Seattle contingent is purchasing the Maloofs' portion of the franchise and a 12 percent share from minority owner Bob Hernreich.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson issued a statement on Sunday night promising to fight to keep the franchise, but sources said the Maloofs reached an agreement in principle to sell the team over the weekend of Jan. 4-6, and that the pushes by potential local ownership groups in Sacramento were too late.