The Sacramento Kings will remain in the California capital for at least one more season after dropping plans to relocate to Anaheim, the NBA team confirmed on Monday.
The Maloof family, owners of the Kings, had been investigating a move to Orange County after their efforts to secure a new arena deal in Sacramento stalled.
"Out of respect to Kings fans and the regional business community, we have decided to remain in Sacramento for the 2011-12 season," the Maloofs said in a statement. "The fans' spirit and energy, specifically our season ticket holders, has been remarkable and we are truly thankful for their loyalty.
"We also are greatly appreciative of the support from our corporate sponsors as well as other local businesses that have come forward in recent weeks."
The reprieve gives Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who played 12 seasons in the NBA, a chance to drum up support for a new arena.
But if Johnson cannot deliver on a new arena then it is likely the Kings, who play in one of the NBA's oldest arenas, would still move to Anaheim and take up residence at the Honda Center.
Anaheim's leaders had approved a plan to refurbish the Honda Center with proceeds from the sale of up to $75 million in lease revenue bonds to help lure the Kings away from California's capital.
A spokeswoman for Anaheim said city leaders would have to reauthorize the plan for selling the debt should the Kings owners eventually move forward with a relocation plan.
Local billionaire Ronald Burkle, who is a co-owner of the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins, had also expressed interest in acquiring the team and keeping them in Sacramento. However, the Maloofs have insisted they do not wish to sell.
"During this process, Mayor Johnson has strongly indicated to both the community and the NBA that he is capable of getting the support to build a state-of-the-art entertainment and sports facility that the Sacramento Region and the tremendous Kings fans so rightly deserve," added the Maloofs. "We look forward to seeing Mayor Johnson bring his vision to reality.
"However, if an arena plan cannot be finalised in a timely fashion, the NBA's relocation committee has assured Maloof Sports and Entertainment that it will support an application to move the franchise to another market starting in 2012-13."
The Maloofs' decision to remain in Sacramento through the 2011-2012 season came just hours ahead of a deadline for filing a formal request with the NBA for relocation.
NBA commissioner David Stern said the league will send the struggling franchise nine experts to Sacramento to assist with increasing sponsorship, ticket base and a campaign for a new arena but warned that the clock was ticking.
"The committee did tell the Maloofs that if they did try, given the outpouring of support, another year in Sacramento the committee would supportive of a move in a year if the plan did not come to fruition," Stern said during a conference call.