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Originally published June 4, 2013 at 8:22 PM | Page modified June 5, 2013 at 12:08 PM

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King County residents shrug about NBA rejection

More than 50 percent of King County residents surveyed in a recent poll said they reacted with a shrug to the NBA’s decision to block a sale of the Sacramento Kings to a group seeking to move the team to Seattle.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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We didn’t really care anyway.

Or at least that’s what King County residents told a pollster last week about the NBA’s decision to block a sale of the Sacramento Kings to a group seeking to move the team to Seattle.

The poll, released Tuesday by Stuart Elway, found that 51 percent of county residents reacted with a shrug to the NBA’s decision. Thirty-three percent were disappointed, and 12 percent were glad.

The last 4 percent said they had no opinion, which indicates they didn’t really care, either.

The Seattle-Sacramento saga “was really not a compelling drama for most King County residents,” Elway said in releasing the poll.

The results painted a starkly different picture from a poll conducted almost exactly one year ago, when just 24 percent of local residents said they didn’t care about bringing the NBA back to Seattle.

The reasons for the ambivalence to the Kings’ move are unclear.

Elway noted in an interview that the number of “disappointed” residents in the latest poll — 33 percent — is similar to the 31 percent in last year’s poll who said they were “strongly in favor” of bringing the NBA back to town.

Those who were only somewhat in favor of the NBA’s return last year may have disliked the Kings or grown tired of the whole drama, Elway said.

The pollster added that the only true majority throughout several public surveys has been that residents did not want a publicly financed arena.

“It’s really a hard-core fan base here that cares a lot about this and shows up at the rallies and all that,” Elway said. “But for most people, public money has always been the big issue.”

The arena deal negotiated between hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen, the Metropolitan King County Council and the Seattle City Council, includes $200 million in public financing that would be paid back by rent money and arena admissions taxes. Hansen would be obligated to make up any shortfall.

The deal is still good for five years if Hansen can acquire a team.

Hansen said last month his ownership group “will continue to press forward” with trying to bring the NBA back to Seattle.

Elway’s most recent poll contacted 401 King County heads of household from May 28 to 30. The margin of error was plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Brian M. Rosenthal: 360-236-8267 or brosenthal@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @brianmrosenthal

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