Updated Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 12:01 AM
NBA commissioner David Stern said Wednesday that a group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, which reached tentative agreement to purchase the Sacramento Kings last month, has taken the next step by formally filing to relocate the team to Seattle.
Stern, speaking in Minneapolis before an NBA game, called the Seattle group "very strong" and said the appropriate committees have convened to look over the proposed sale of the Kings and the possible move to Seattle.
The filing was expected before the NBA's March 1 deadline for teams to apply for relocation.
"We are glad to hear this," said Aaron Pickus, a spokesman for Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, in an email to The Seattle Times. "This is consistent with the mayor's most recent conversation with commissioner Stern."
Hansen declined to comment through a representative.
Hansen and Ballmer's group last month reached a tentative agreement with the Maloof family to buy 65 percent of the Kings, which is valued at $525 million. The group plans to move the team to Seattle, and has reached agreement with the Seattle City Council and Metropolitan King County Council to build a $490 million NBA/NHL arena in the Sodo District.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson hopes to match the offer and build a new arena by forming a group of investors that could keep the Kings in Northern California.
But Stern said Wednesday he didn't believe it would turn into a showdown to see who could make the biggest offer for the Kings.
"I don't think it's a bidding war," Stern said. "There's a series of issues that are defined by our constitution that have to be considered. One of the things that our board is mandated to consider is the support for the team in the prior city. So there are real issues for the board to consider, about the buildings, about the likelihood they will be built, about the support from the cities."
The commissioner said he has combined two committees that usually look over a proposed sale and a move. That group is expected to report to the NBA Board of Governors, which is scheduled to meet and vote on the proposals in mid-April. Sale of the franchise requires a majority vote, and relocation needs a three-quarters vote.
Seattle Times staff reporter Steve Miletich and The Associated Press contributed to this report.