SBD/February 23, 2011/Franchises

Sacramento Struggles To Grasp Maloofs' Intentions With Kings

Maloofs could ask NBA to extend relocation application deadline beyond March 1
Two days after the NBA confirmed that the Kings are in talks to relocate to Anaheim, Sacramento city officials were "struggling Tuesday to get a read on the team's intentions," according to a front-page piece by Kasler & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. R.E. Graswich, a spokesperson for Kevin Johnson, said that the Sacramento Mayor "hasn't spoken with the Maloofs, who own the Kings, in about four weeks." Graswich added that the Maloofs "haven't provided the mayor with any details about their talks with officials at Anaheim's Honda Center." Developer David Taylor, "deputized by the City Council to study the feasibility of a new arena in Sacramento, said through a spokesman he hasn't yet met with the Maloofs but hopes to do so soon." Johnson reiterated that he is "committed to keeping the Kings in Sacramento." But he added, "We are not going to be used as leverage. We are not going to be sitting here giving all our cards to the Maloofs so they can negotiate with some other city and try to get a better deal." Kasler & Bizjak note "relocating the Kings would cost a lot of money." Sacramento City Treasurer Russ Fehr yesterday said that the Maloofs "would have to pay off the $67 million they owe the city of Sacramento, plus a $9 million early repayment fee." Also, the NBA "generally charges a relocation fee, although that varies." NBA Senior VP/Basketball Communications Tim Frank said that the Kings "wouldn't have to pay" the Clippers or Lakers to move into the Southern California market (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/23).

LOOKING AT THE CALENDAR: In California, Randy Youngman reports while the NBA's stated deadline for relocation application is March 1, there are "growing indications that the Maloofs will ask for an extension on the deadline because of unresolved issues as the protracted negotiations continue" with Anaheim Arena Management, the company that operates Honda Center for the City of Anaheim. Months of "talks between the Maloofs and Honda Center officials have intensified to the point that a final decision is expected in March." But it also is "possible there might not be an announcement until April because the Kings' regular-season home schedule doesn't end until an April 13 game against the Lakers" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 2/23). Johnson said, "We're all looking at the calendar in a way we haven't before. We can only control what we can control." He added the Maloofs in previous conversations have never "drawn a line in the sand" about leaving town. But Johnson also said that he "recognizes the Maloof family are business people and have to make the decision that is right for them" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/23). A SACRAMENTO BEE editorial states, "Before a breakup, the Maloofs ought to wait for the results of a study, due in May, on whether an arena is financially feasible. They should also be talking directly to city leaders" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/23).

WITHOUT A KING? In Sacramento, Marcos Breton writes, "This community needs a new arena and entertainment complex whether the Kings leave or stay. ... A Kings departure leaves a gaping hole and crummy building -- wounds Sacramento will undoubtedly seek to heal one day with a new building" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/23). Economists and regional business leaders believe that the Kings' departure "could have both an economic and psychic impact on a community already slammed by the housing downturn and state government cutbacks." Johnson yesterday indicated that Arco Arena "generates about $1 million a year in property taxes." He added that the team "at one point employed 1,000 full- and part-time employees" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/23).

DON'T GO AWAY: ESPN's Michael Smith said the possibility the Kings relocating to Anaheim "makes me sad." Smith: "Sacramento is one of the great home court advantages in the league. I know it hasn't had a lot of success this year, but I mean the cowbell at Arco Arena is loud” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 2/22). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said the NBA, “because of cities like San Antonio, Portland, Salt Lake City, Milwaukee, they've enjoyed this certain reputation, a certain sense that, 'Yes, we can exist and do it well in these places.' … I like them in Sacramento." But ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said, The bloom is off the rose in Sacramento now.” He added, “I'm not that worried of having a bunch of teams in Southern California, but they're going to be obliterated by the Lakers and ... by Blake Griffin for as long as he plays for the Clippers" ("PTI," ESPN, 2/22).
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