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Anaheim billionaire throws more money to push Kings move

Apr 29, 2011, 10:43 AM EDT

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Sacramento has all the momentum — reportedly the NBA and its relocation committee have told the Kings owners, the Maloof brothers, to stay put and not move their team this summer.

But the folks in Anaheim are not giving up, stepping in at the last minute to sweeten the deal to move the Kings south, according to the Sacramento Bee.

In a late move to land the Kings, Orange County billionaire Henry Samueli has offered to increase his personal loan to the team from $50 million to as much as $75 million, and has offered to buy a minority stake in the organization.

Samueli, owner of the Anaheim Ducks hockey team, also has agreed to make far more costly improvements to Anaheim’s Honda Center, which he manages, to bring that facility up to NBA standards.

Originally, Honda Center officials had planned to spend $25 million on upgrades. That figure has jumped in the last few days to $70 million, center officials said Thursday afternoon.

Randy Youngman at the Orange County Register adds that people in Anaheim have lined up three times the sponsorship money and improved the television package to $24 million a year (more than double the current deal in Sacramento) with the team’s games shown on a variety of networks.

Basically, while the city of Sacramento’s grass roots effort can raise $10 million, Samueli can push a lot more chips into the pot a lot more easily. That still likely will not save his hand.

This comes off as adding to some of the existing concerns of other owners — that the Maloofs are taking on too much debt, for one. And it does not change questions about the viability of a third team in the greater Los Angeles market.

As for Samueli offering to take on a minority stake in the team, it feels like he’s been angling for that or more all along. Giving the already debt-loaded Maloofs another loan would help keep him at the front of the line should the team ever be sold, a minority ownership share even more so.

The Maloof brothers have until Monday to decide if they are going to file for relocation with the league and test the other owners resolve to block them. With the league telling the Maloofs to stay put, they likely do not have the votes to get the Board of Governor’s approval for a move.

There has been talk the Kings could take their case to court, or try to pull an Al Davis and just move the team anyway. Both of those are tough uphill battles. Donald Sterling essentially already did that in 1984 when he moved the Clippers from San Diego to Los Angeles and after that the NBA change rules saying that an owner cannot move a team without Board of Governors approval. The Maloofs signed off on that when they bought the team.

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