This isn't really about the Sonics, or even Chris Hansen's bid to buy the Kings and move the franchise to Seattle. This is about the billions (upon BILLIONS) of dollars municipalities all across the nation have spent on building stadiums for professional basketball, baseball, football and hockey stadia. It could be argued that each city got exactly what it paid for for each stadium it built, and it's possible most (although not all) professional teams that have relocated did so because the situations in the previous cities were intractable. Even if we accept those possibilities as fact, though, American sports fans have been incredibly loyal AND generous to the teams they love, enough so that we deserve some form of consumer protection to prevent team owners from moving franchises to other cities without giving the local community some option of keep the team in town.
(Although political talk is not completely banned from this site, I ask that we refrain from questioning whether the Federal Government can, or should, make such laws over private businesses like the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL.)
Whenever a professional sports team is sold, Congress must insist that the new owners must immediately sign a new 10-year agreement to keep the team in question in the city that it currently resides in, assuming the team is not already leased to a city/stadium for more than that amount of time. If the new owners refuse to sign said lease, it is then assumed that they plan to relocate the franchise, and the city is given 3 to 6 months to find a local bidder to match the offer, and keep the team in town (to prevent any "poison pill" selling terms, I believe a neutral arbitrator should come in and decide what an "appropriate" matching bid would amount to). If no matching bids come in, obviously, the new owner(s) are free to relocate the team.
Just as obviously, you the reader are telling yourself that this exact situation is playing out with the Kings, and if such a law were in place the Kings would remain in Sacramento. Yes, however, if such a law was in place back in 2008, the liar Clay Bennett would have most likely been stopped from taking the Sonics away in the first place; in fact, if such a law already existed, Bennett probably would have not tried to purchase the Sonics at all, and instead wait for the Grizzlies or Hornets to become available, both of whom have struggled to fill their respective arenas, even when making the playoffs.
There's a reason why all pro sports teams have city name (or state name, or in some cases, a broad description of the area that the team resides in) in front of the team's moniker: There is no denying the deep, emotional bond that connects fans to the teams they root for, and it's not too much to ask that that connection not be completely ignored due to the selfish, sometimes arbitrary decision that team owners make. It's not like these leagues would have made as much money as they have if all the teams played out of one arena in Wichita, Kansas, and had the games broadcasted across the nation. We root for the Seahawks and Mariners because they are from Seattle, not because they are Team A and Team B that we randomly selected. It's abhorrent that Sonics fans and Kings fans must fight over one franchise, but that's the situation the NBA has put us all in, because of poor decisions made in the past, and also because the people who pay for the seats and watch on the television and purchase the merchandise have no say with who controls their favorite teams and what happens to them.
Thanks to anti-trust legislation, sports teams are not controlled like other businesses; if they want to keep it that way, they should accept this one regulation. The leagues will be healthier for it, in the long run.