SBD/April 17, 2012/Facilities

Kings Will Return To Sacramento For '12-13, But Future Venue Plans Remain Murky

Editorial states city officials should keep talking to AEG about partnering on venue
The NBA Kings will "stay put in Sacramento for next season -- and the team's owners, the Maloofs, insist they're committed to finding a way to remain in town long-term," according to a front-page piece by Dale Kasler of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said yesterday that he "isn't sure he believes the Maloofs want to stay." Johnson: "I can't tell you whether they want to be in Sacramento or not." But the arena idea itself "might not be completely dead." One of the groups "planning to bid on the city's parking garages -- a deal that could have raised" $230M for the arena -- said yesterday that it is "interested in reviving the project." Sacramento Forward spokesperson Roger Salazar said, "We're willing and open to play a larger role in helping to complete the (arena) project." His group "includes Antarctica Capital, which was poised to spend" $2.3B on state office buildings before the deal was "canceled by Gov. Jerry Brown." Sports consultant Andy Dolich said, "I don't think the Kings are going anyplace but back to the bargaining table if they're intelligent" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/17). Johnson said yesterday that the "effort to keep the Kings in Sacramento 'is not over,' although he offered few clues as to how the city will deal with the collapse of the arena project." Johnson "reiterated that the city wouldn't put up any money to renovate outdated Power Balance Pavilion" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/17). Kings co-Owner George Maloof said yesterday that the family "wants to continue arena negotiations directly with the city of Sacramento, cutting out the NBA as the middle man." Maloof said, "I know that the NBA is very busy and they have a lot going on. I think they would prefer if we just work directly with the city and we would prefer that too." He added, "I'm under the impression that maybe downtown's not the right place. There's a lot of pressure from outside interests that want it downtown for money reasons, and maybe that's not the best place for it." He also "disputed the notion fellow owners are infuriated by the Maloofs' refusal to consummate the arena deal." T'Wolves Owner and NBA BOG Chair Glen Taylor said Friday he wished the Maloofs "had stayed and worked with the city," but an arena deal in Sacramento "may be impossible" due to a "gap in trust." Maloof said, "I have all the respect in the world for Glen; he's a very good friend of mine and I respect the man. But at the same time, we were intimately involved in this deal. We know the numbers" (, 4/16).

ONE AND DONE?'s Sam Amick wrote Johnson's "premise -- that the Maloofs will sell or be forced to sell -- is the part where it gets puzzling." No matter how "badly he and perhaps the NBA want the Maloofs to hand the team over, the family continues to say it won't give in to the pressure and that relocation isn't an option this time around even with the latest setback." Given NBA Commissioner David Stern's history as the "kind of commissioner who can't be crossed, the notion that there would be no recourse for the egg on his face seems unfathomable." Meanwhile, the Maloofs, who "initially claimed" that a $3.25M "redevelopment fee was the main holdup of the deal, have likely lost more than that in team sponsorships and future attendance by way of this public relations disaster." Sources said that because "so many businesses agreed to one-year deals last season as a result of the one-year reprieve," there are more than 50 partners "up for renewal for next season and there's simply not much incentive to invest in the future." It is "hard to imagine the support continuing without the return of hope here" (, 4/16). A SACRAMENTO BEE editorial states while the prospects "may appear bleak right now, it is premature to completely give up on a new entertainment and sports facility -- with or without the city's NBA team as the primary tenant." Officials "should keep talking to Anschutz Entertainment Group about being the city's partner, even if the Maloof family won't be." The deal with the Maloofs "is dead," but a new arena "doesn't have to be" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/17).

ROOM FOR ANOTHER TEAM? In California, Mark Whicker wrote the city of Anaheim would "take an NBA team even if it were owned by the Amish." Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said, "We are NBA-ready. There are 25 million people in Southern California, and yet there is only one venue to watch pro basketball. When people talk about two teams in Los Angeles being enough, we disagree with that. These are two different markets, and people from San Diego, for example, could get on a train and arrive within walking distance of the arena." However, Whicker notes even with the Lakers telecasts going to Time Warner Cable, it is "difficult to squeeze one's games" onto the FSN stations in L.A. To "dominate the winter sports market in Sacramento, Seattle or Kansas City would seem far more desirable than to wallow on the inside pages here, or to share one's building with the proprietary Ducks" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 4/17).
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