SBD/May 3, 2011/Franchises

Sacramento Turns To Arena Plans After Retaining Kings For One More Season

Johnson says city is united behind effort to keep the Kings

After a "remarkable victory" to prevent the Kings from moving to Anaheim, Sacramento "faces a non-negotiable deadline" to keep the team in the city, according to Bizjak, Lillis & Kasler of the SACRAMENTO BEE. If there is no financing plan for a new arena in place by next March, the Maloofs and the NBA "agree the team will be free to go." Sacramento "will need to find hundreds of millions of dollars in a community wracked by recession and historically hostile to using public funding for a basketball arena." Kings co-Owner George Maloof said, "We need to see how it is going to be financed and, quite frankly, we are not going into this with a big checkbook. Is it even right to ask people to pay for it?" City officials are "discussing a regionwide joint powers authority to explore an arena plan," and a "much-anticipated study on how to finance a facility is expected by month's end." Details of the plan for a new arena "will not emerge until" developer David Taylor and arena builder ICON Venue Group release the study. The group is "expected to estimate the project's cost at around" $350M, but "still unclear is how Taylor and ICON will propose paying for the new arena." Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said, "What's different this time is we are all in it together." Maloof said, "We'll look to the mayor to turn his words into reality. We have to put him on the spot." He added, "At the end of the day, we felt we should go back and give it one more try (in Sacramento). Some of us felt it wasn't necessary to go back, some of us felt we should give fans the opportunity. We're all on board though with this decision." NBA Commissioner David Stern said, "This may be that special moment where forces join together. We're feeling pretty good about the prospects here. ... We are going to put all of our efforts in Sacramento and make it happen and make it succeed" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/3).

LENDING A HAND: Stern this week will assign nine league employees to help the Kings run their business. Stern said that Exec VP/Team Marketing & Business Operations Chris Granger will lead the league’s operational assistance in Sacramento. Brian McIntyre, Senior Communications Advisor to Stern, also will work with the team. McIntyre retired in '10 as NBA Senior VP/Basketball Communications after 30 years in the league. Stern also said Joe and Gavin Maloof are “in good standing” with the league (John Lombardo, SportsBusiness Journal). In Sacramento, Marcos Breton notes the NBA is "all but operating the Kings business now," helping the team with "ticket sales, media relations and marketing" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/3).


SUPPORT SYSTEM: Joe Maloof this morning on "The Dan Patrick Show" said the team "got a great commitment from the fans" in Sacramento, "which we knew we would always get, and the business community really stepped up and it was just terrific what they did for us." He added the Kings would have left Sacramento "if we hadn't seen the great response from the fans and the business community and just everything that went on the last couple weeks." Maloof: “I think really the NBA wanted us to go back. They wanted us to give it another try and we decided to go ahead and do that. … We'd love it to stay in Sacramento. We always have." Maloof said to stay in Sacramento, "Mayor Johnson has to bring us a financial package that makes sense for everybody involved and just take it from there. It has to work. We've looked at all types and we're willing to do whatever it takes to make it work. We're 100% behind the mayor to get it done."When asked if there are any financial problems with ownership or the team, Maloof said, "No, not at all. I think that our franchise is in as good a shape as any going in the future. We'll have more cap space than any team to spend. We're going to have another top-five pick. I think we've got a great young core of players. ... There's a lot of optimism as far as our team goes." Johnson said, "What we need to do as a city over the next year is really lay out a critical path to a new arena, and I think we're up for that challenge." Johnson said if the Kings do eventually leave Sacramento, the city will pursue another NBA franchise because the objective is to "remain an NBA city" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 5/3).

GIVING IT ONE MORE GO: Joe Maloof said, "Everybody knows we never wanted to leave. We just can't survive in this building. ... We have a heart. We have a soul. If I heard it once, I heard it one hundred times. 'Can't you give Sacramento one more chance?' That 'Here We Stay' stuff? The scene at the last game? Man, that really got to me." In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin notes George Maloof "will be more involved in future arena conversations than at any time in the past," while Joe and Gavin Maloof "will concentrate on increasing season-ticket sales and sponsorships and interacting with the public" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/3). Voisin wrote it "became pretty obvious that Joe and Gavin Maloof's stature as the oldest of the five siblings was a huge factor in the family's decision not to buck the league's opposition to a move to Anaheim." Additionally, the league's "intention to 'substantially' increase revenue sharing in the next collective bargaining agreement was no small factor in the NBA's decision to nudge the Kings back to Sacramento." Also, Johnson's "background as a former NBA All-Star can't be understated." But Voisin wrote ultimately "this came down to the other owners' skepticism about the viability of a third team in Southern California" (SACBEE.com, 5/2). Kings F Jason Thompson said, "It's definitely a good feeling, not just for us but for the city of Sacramento. It's definitely good to know earlier than later so we can prepare for working out and living." Kings coach Paul Westphal: "We think we finished strong, and we really felt the love and support of the fans" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/3). YAHOO SPORTS' Kelly Dwyer wrote the NBA "got one right" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/2).

George Maloof says city must come up with a
plan to finance, build new arena
IN SACRAMENTO'S HANDS: George Maloof said Sacramento has to "show us a plan and how the (new) arena will be financed." Maloof: "We've been down this road before, but we have respect for the community. ... We're going in with blind faith." Stern added, "Anaheim made a great pitch as a stand-alone market. Anaheim is in the future of the NBA. This process only moved it along, rather than detracted from it" (L.A. TIMES, 5/3). The SACRAMENTO BEE's Breton writes, "It's up to Sacramento to get an arena deal done. ... Sacramento is great at opposing things. This is about supporting something. Let's do it" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/3). A SACRAMENTO BEE editorial: "Sacramento, you should give yourself a pat on the back." But "Maloofs or no Maloofs, it will be a tough road ahead figuring how Sacramento can help finance and build a sports and entertainment arena" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/3). In N.Y., Howard Beck writes the chances of keeping the Kings "long term rest solely on the city's ability to approve, finance and build a new arena -- a goal the city has failed to meet many times in the last decade" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/3). Joe Maloof said of Johnson, "It's up to him. The league is giving Kevin Johnson one more year (to get it done). This decision (to return) is being made for the (Kings) fans." In California, Randy Youngman notes the Maloofs "ultimately decided not to challenge the NBA at this time, apparently in exchange for the reassurance they would reserve the right to relocate in the future" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 5/3).

ANOTHER NEAR MISS FOR ANAHEIM: The ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER's Youngman notes this is "at least the fifth time Anaheim's bid for an NBA franchise has fallen through." A spokesperson for Anaheim Arena Management, which operates Honda Center, said that the deal to bring the Kings to the city "included several financial guarantees from" Ducks Owner Henry Samueli. Among these were "at least $70 million for improvements and upgrades at Honda Center; a six-year TV contract worth $24 million a year; and a $75 million personal loan from Samueli" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 5/3). In Sacramento, Dale Kasler writes despite "offering the Maloof family $145 million worth of incentives, including a huge personal loan, Anaheim's 18-year quest for an NBA franchise resulted in more frustration Monday" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/3). Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's Ray Ratto said of the Kings, "I think Orange County is closed to them now simply because (Lakers Owner) Jerry Buss did a great job of canvassing other owners and saying, 'Not here. I don't want my new TV deal screwed up by a third team in town.'" Ratto added, "Anaheim is dead because Jerry Buss rose up, and David Stern does not want the league looking prosperous when they're going into labor problems" ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 5/2). The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding said, “It's hard to think that Anaheim is leading the way anymore. I think something really has to go wrong at this point for Anaheim to get back into it" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 5/3). But Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait in a statement said, "The final chapter has not been written. Anaheim/Orange County is ripe for the NBA and we offer an incredibly attractive package to any team" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 5/3). Stern said, "Anaheim is not in any way stigmatized by the decision of the Maloofs to give Sacramento another year." He added, "I would tell you the Maloofs will have a lot of support for wherever they choose to go" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 5/3).

JACKSON APOLOGIZES
: In California, David Lassen reports Lakers coach Phil Jackson "formally apologized for a recent comment about" Joe and Gavin Maloof. Jackson yesterday said that he "sent a written apology for his comments comparing the Maloofs to Dodgers owner Frank McCourt." When asked if he "had actually handwritten a letter to the Maloofs," Jackson said, "Yes. I had a gun at my head, but ..." Lassen notes the Maloofs were "upset enough about being compared to McCourt ... that they sent an attorney to the home of Orange County Register writer Janis Carr last week, seeking a tape of Jackson's comment to reporters" (Riverside PRESS-ENTERPRISE, 5/3). Joe Maloof said Jackson's comments were "below the belt." Maloof: "It was completely wrong. He was off base, didn't make any sense. ... We don't have any ill regard towards him. Just wish that maybe he'd stick to basketball and don't put his nose into our business" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 5/3).

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