NBA Sending Reps To Sacramento To Study Efforts To Keep Kings, Build New Arena
The NBA yesterday said that it is sending Thunder Chair Clay Bennett, head of the league's relocation committee, and an attorney to Sacramento on Thursday and Friday "for a look at the city's efforts to increase corporate financial support for the team and to finance a new sports-entertainment arena," according to Tony Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. NBA Commissioner David Stern said that Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson's "businesslike presentation last week to league owners in New York prompted the decision to give Sacramento a second look before deciding if the Kings may move to Anaheim next season." Johnson told the league that he "has lined up $7 million in new commitments from businesses for corporate sponsorships, ticket sales and luxury suite purchases." Johnson's office yesterday declined to "release details of those commitments, including who made them and how firm they are," though a "solicitation letter that has been sent to businesses ... indicates the mayor and his team are looking for what they describe as 'soft' commitments of at least $100,000 from companies that run from one to four years." Johnson "has scheduled a news conference today to discuss the Kings." Bizjak notes "key questions for the NBA appear to be whether the commitments are solid, and whether $7 million, or perhaps a few million more by week's end, is enough to support the Kings for a few more years until a new arena can be built." One "critical hurdle for Sacramento will be whether the mayor and downtown developer David Taylor can convince NBA officials that the city is on track to finance a new arena." Taylor, along with ICON Venue Group, "has been working on a feasibility study, but has not released details on how an arena can be financed, and is not expected to do so prior to the league visit this week." Kings co-Owner George Maloof yesterday said he respects the league's effort "to investigate what the mayor has to say." Maloof added that the team "also plans to talk to the NBA fact-finders" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/19). Kings broadcaster Grant Napear said the Kings' situation is about "one thing and one thing only: the building that the Kings currently play in is out-dated, it's antiquated" ("OTL," ESPN, 4/18).