Sacramento Turns To Arena Plans After Retaining Kings For One More Season
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
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).
plan to finance, build new arena
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).
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).