Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sacramento mayor wants Kings to stay

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson had a stern warning for Seattle SuperSonics fans who are excited about the prospect of the NBA returning to the Puget Sound next season.

"Don't celebrate too early," he said.

In front of a cheering City Hall crowd filled with fans and public officials Tuesday, Johnson introduced the first part of his four-step plan to keep the Sacramento Kings in California's capital city.

The three-time NBA all-star turned mayor unveiled 20 local investors who have pledged at least $1 million each to be part of a group that would buy the franchise. Johnson said the major partner he hopes will anchor the last-ditch deal to keep the Kings from moving to Seattle will be revealed as soon as this week.

"We've been here before," Johnson said. "Our backs have been against the wall. They told us it wasn't going to happen. But each and every step along the way, as long as there is time on the clock, our community always finds a way to stand up for itself."

Unlike the last two years, Sacramento is up against a group that already has signed agreements to acquire the Kings and build a new arena for the franchise.

The mayor's announcement came a day after the Maloof family announced a deal to sell the Kings to a Seattle group that includes investor Chris Hansen and Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer. The signed purchase agreement is still pending a vote by the NBA Board of Governors.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 23, 2013 C6

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