SBD/April 8, 2013/Facilities

Sacramento Wants County's Financial Support For Proposed NBA Kings Arena

Sacramento's downtown region would benefit from the Kings staying in the city
Sacramento city officials said that they are "counting on Sacramento County to kick in an estimated $600,000 a year to help pay the debt" on the planned $448M arena for the NBA Kings, but county officials responded that they have "not had any detailed discussions with the city this year about a county contribution," according to Bizjak, Lillis & Kasler of the SACRAMENTO BEE. The situation represents "at least one key element yet to be nailed down" in the city's quest to keep the team. However, officials with both the county and city said that the issue "does not represent a major stumbling block for the city's arena efforts" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/7). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Kaplan & Lombardo note league scrutiny is "falling on the financing differences" between the Sacramento and Seattle groups. Sacramento's group "plans very little debt" on either the new arena or the purchase of the team. Those transactions together would "total nearly $1 billion." 24 Hour Fitness co-Founder Mark Mastrov, who is part of the Sacramento consortium, said, "We will equitize it. We don’t like debt in my business, and the same will go for the Kings." Meanwhile, the Seattle group, led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, is "taking a different financing strategy" and "already has a deal" to buy 65% of the Kings from team Owner the Maloof family. Sources said that Seattle's proposed arena would get $125M of public funds, but of the remaining $400M in private funds, the Hansen group "plans to carry" $250-300M of debt and "has begun reaching out to banks for that financing." The Hansen group also plans to "use the full amount of debt possible on an NBA franchise and its holding company under league rules." That $175M amount would mean there "could be nearly half a billion dollars of debt on the enterprise." Game Plan is "advising the Sacramento bidders" while Tipping Point Sports is "advising Hansen" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/8 issue).

IMPACT ON STERN'S LEGACY: In Seattle, Jerry Brewer wrote NBA Commissioner David Stern "appeared haggard, humbled and, yes, even human" last week at the NBA BOG meeting in N.Y. The decision as to whether the Kings should be relocated is "so weighty that Stern didn't pile on with his usual snarky remarks." He is "listening, searching for the right answer." Or "maybe it should be characterized as trying to avoid the wrong answer." Brewer: "This is not just a good chance for the NBA to return to Seattle. It's quite possibly the league's last chance, too" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/7). In Boston, Gary Washburn wrote the decision on where the Kings end up could "determine part of Stern's legacy." He is "attempting to steer responsibility toward" the BOG, but along with Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver, he will "definitely have a say." Stern would "love to leave the decision up to the Relocation Committee" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/7).

WEALTH OF NATIONS: In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin wrote under the header, "NBA's Interest In India May Be Boon For Kings." India is the "next NBA frontier." Warriors Vice Chair and Kings bidder Vivek Ranadivé's recent inclusion into the group "not only financially strengthened Sacramento's bid, it introduced a unique and tantalizing element into the equation: the potential presence of an Indian-born owner to put a face on the league's forays into the second-most heavily populated country in the world" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/7).
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