SEATTLE (AP)-- People with knowledge of the situation said Wednesday that investor Chris Hansen has contacted the Maloof family about buying the Sacramento Kings.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity because no deal has been reached.
One person says the Kings could sell for more than $500 million. The Kings' future in Sacramento has been uncertain because the Maloofs and the city haven't been able to come up with a long-term arena solution.
Hansen reached an agreement with local governments in Seattle last October on plans to build a $490 million arena near the city's other stadiums: CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field. As part of the agreement, no construction will begin until all environmental reviews are completed and a team has been secured.
Hansen's group is expected to pitch in $290 million in private investment toward the arena, along with helping to pay for transportation improvements in the area around the stadiums. The plans also call for the arena to be able to handle a future NHL franchise. The remaining $200 million in public financing would be paid back with rent money and admissions taxes from the arena, and if that money falls short, Hansen would be responsible for making up the rest. Other investors in the proposed arena include Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and two members of the Nordstrom department store family.
The NBA had no comment. Representatives for Hansen did not return messages seeking comment. Any franchise looking to relocate must submit their plans to the NBA by March 1 and the move must be approved by the league.
A post on Twitter Tuesday night had Seattle NBA fans buzzing about the possibility of a team returning to the Emerald City.
Daina Falk, the daughter of NBA player's agent David Falk, tweeted, 'So I hear that the Seattle Kings is officially a done deal! The Maloofs finally sold the ailing Sacramento team. #NBA.'
Sometime before 6 a.m. Wednesday, the tweet had been deleted. But buzz about a sale fired up again later Wednesday morning when Yahoo! Sports reporter Adrian Wojnarowski began Tweeting about a deal reached between the Maloofs and Hansen.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said he would not comment on Twitter rumors.
Wojnarowski reports the deal would be to sell the Kings to Hansen and Microsoft chairman Steve Ballmer for about $500 million. The team would move to KeyArena next season and play there for two years before moving into the new arena proposed for the SODO neighborhood.
The Kings were reportedly the target of a group seeking to relocate an NBAteam to Virginia Beach. The project included a proposal to build an arena in conjunction with Comcast-Spectator.
Tuesday, Beach mayor Will Sessoms told 13News the arena deal was 'dead for now' but left the door open for a future arena project for a sports team.
The Maloofs backed out of a tentative $391 million deal for a new downtown arena with Sacramento last year, reigniting fears the franchise could relocate. Johnson and the Kings broke off all negotiations in the summer.
In 2011, the Kings appeared determined to move to Anaheim before Johnson convinced the NBA to give the city one last chance to help finance an arena. At one point, Johnson seemed so certain the team was gone he called the process a 'slow death' and compared the city's efforts to keep the Kings a 'Hail Mary.'
Johnson made a desperate pitch to the NBA Board of Governors last April, promising league owners the city would find a way to help finance a new arena to replace the team's current outdated suburban facility. He also bought time by presenting more than $10 million in commitments for new advertising, ticket purchases and other financial support from regional businesses for this season.
The NBA's relocation committee, headed by Oklahoma City owner Clay Bennett -- who moved the team now known as the Thunder from Seattle in 2008 -- recommended that the league give the city a shot to follow through and handed down a March 1 deadline to come up with a plan to help finance an arena. Johnson delivered the agreement on March 1 to send the plan to the City Council.
On the night of March 6, 2012, the Sacramento City Council passed a deal -- brokered by the NBA and with the blessing of Commissioner David Stern -- for a new downtown arena. A sea of supporters packed the grounds for the vote, which seemingly saved the Kings from relocation.
Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof also attended the meeting. He thanked the council and said his family looked forward to working with the city to finalize plans that would keep the franchise in Sacramento for at least another 30 years.
The Maloofs broke off talks with Johnson and the city over the summer. The Kings have said the deal didn't make financial sense for the franchise.
An environmental impact study must still be completed on that arena, and the Seattle Arena team faces a lawsuit by the longshoreman's union over concerns about how game traffic will affect traffic at the nearby Port of Seattle.
Collected here are Tweets from Wojnarowski, KING 5's Chris Daniels, and other reporters working on this story: