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Originally published March 5, 2013 at 8:03 PM | Page modified March 6, 2013 at 11:41 AM

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Sacramento mayor hopes to influence NBA owners before April vote

Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson told a radio station Tuesday that he wants to state his case for keeping the Kings to owners weeks before the NBA Board of Governors votes on selling the team to a Seattle group.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The NBA Board of Governors is not expected to vote on a sale of the Kings to a Seattle group until mid-April. But Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said Tuesday he hopes to meet with league owners a few weeks earlier to state his city's case for keeping the Kings.

"I know there will be an end-of-March, early-April opportunity to go out and present to NBA owners," said Johnson, in an interview with Capital Public Radio in Sacramento.

Johnson indicated he did not expect the NBA to give him any signal of approval at that time, saying "certainly, the final verdict will be April 18-19" when the Board of Governors meets in New York.

The comment shows Johnson remains aggressive as he states Sacramento's case before the NBA. It isn't clear whether he would meet with all owners.

Johnson announced last week that he had assembled an ownership group led by 24 Hour Fitness Mark Mastrov and that billionaire Ron Burkle planned to build a downtown arena.

A Seattle group led by Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced in January it had reached an agreement to purchase the team from the current owners, the Maloof family. That group has made a $30 million nonrefundable payment on the Kings.

The purchase and request to relocate the Kings to Seattle must be approved by the NBA Board of Governors.

Mastrov reportedly submitted his bid to the Maloofs and the NBA on Friday. Sacramento, meanwhile, continues to work out details of its arena proposal, which could include as much as $255 million in city money.

Sacramento city manager John Shirey said at a City Council meeting Tuesday night he intends to bring a financing term sheet for a new downtown arena to the council for a vote at its March 26 meeting, according to the Sacramento Bee.

A spokesman for the Seattle group said Tuesday it will not comment on anything coming out of Sacramento.

Sacramento's push came as reports surfaced that the Seattle group might have to pay a relocation fee of as much as $75 million. CBSSports.com first reported the figure, noting it would be substantially higher than the $30 million that Clay Bennett paid in 2008 to move the Sonics to Oklahoma City.

CBSSports.com said that the higher fee would "change the game, and not necessarily in Sacramento's favor" because NBA owners would share the money.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @bcondotta

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