The NBA has delayed a decision on whether the Kings will stay in Sacramento or move to Seattle, but the two competing buyers' groups came away encouraged from their meetings Wednesday with the league.
"If I was confident going in, I am even more confident, optimistic now," Dow Constantine, part of the Seattle group, told the Seattle Times.
The Seattle group, backed by hedge-fund investor Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, had been considered the front-runner to purchase the team and return an NBA franchise to that city.
But Darius Anderson of Sonoma, who is part of the upstart group trying to keep the team in Sacramento, said he believes the league's 10-member finance and relocation committee is being put to the test.
"This is one of the hardest decisions the NBA will have to make in a long time," said Anderson, a lobbyist who also leads the ownership group that purchased The Press Democrat in November.
Anderson was at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan on Wednesday with the Sacramento ownership group that made its sales pitch in a 2-hour meeting with NBA Commissioner David Stern and the league's finance and relocation committee members. The Seattle ownership group met separately with the NBA.
Anderson said he left the meeting encouraged by the Sacramento group's presentation, and particularly by the "passion and enthusiasm" shown by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star.
"I think they were impressed by how well we were prepared to answer every question. They were impressed by our ability to address any negative concerns they might have had."
Anderson declined to discuss details of the meeting, citing Stern's instructions about what to reveal to the media. "Sacramento did an amazing job in presenting the reasons why it is a viable long-term NBA market," he said.
Present at the meeting with Anderson and Johnson were State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, Southern California billionaire Ron Burkle and Silicon Valley software tycoon Vivek Ranadive, who is a minority owner of the Golden State Warriors.
Stern said after the sessions that the "extraordinary" presentations by both cities had revealed the competition between Sacramento and Seattle to be too complex to resolve with a vote by the NBA Board of Governors that had been expected during their meetings in New York on April 18-19. Stern said he didn't know when the decision would be made.