Stern Expresses Disappointment As Maloofs, Sacramento End Arena Deal Talks
NBA Commissioner David Stern said Friday that the Kings "are making a mistake by passing up a good deal" on a new $391M arena in downtown Sacramento, according to a front-page piece by Bizjak, Kasler & Lillis of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Stern said, "We had come up with a scenario where the Kings could move into the building without putting a dollar of cash down. We were not attempting to induce them to make a deal that would be unprofitable for them." Stern's comments came after Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson announced that he and Kings Owner the Maloof family "had failed to reach agreement after two days of last-ditch talks -- and the two sides are too far apart to keep talking about building a facility in the downtown railyard." Johnson said, "It became clear today our differences are irreconcilable. This deal is not happening as we know it." Kings co-Owner George Maloof said that the team "is staying in town." Maloof: "We're not going anywhere." He also "mentioned expanding and rehabilitating" Power Balance Pavilion. Maloof said, "Right now, it's break time. Everybody's kind of burned out. I know we are." He added that his family is "going to take some time to focus on (team) operations." Stern said if the Kings can find the money to rehabilitate Power Balance, "that is something that would be good for Sacramento and the NBA." However, the league "doesn't plan to extend its loan offer to that project." Stern: "Everything is now back to square one. There is no building downtown. There is no league subsidy. There is no league loan." Stern also "warned that the Kings would be making a mistake if they rely on the league's new revenue-sharing program to make do at Power Balance." Stern: "I think that is a mistaken calculation by them. I don't think that is what the revenue sharing is meant for." Johnson on Friday "hinted that the Maloofs' reluctance may stem from their financial situation, which appears far less secure since the family sold its beer distributorship and lost ownership of the Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas." Johnson said, "It just became apparent ... the economics of it for them were very difficult. Debt is real, we know that." A source said that the Kings "are carrying about" $205M of debt, "including a city loan" of about $65M (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/28).
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? In Sacramento, Marcos Breton asked, "What happens now that the arena deal is dead?" The city's downtown railyard "remains a pile of dirt" and the team "remain in a building that the Kings owners have let go to pot." The Maloof family "still could file for relocation, especially if attendance dips because the owners have turned off the fan base by killing the arena deal" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/29). Also in Sacramento, Ailene Voisin wrote if the Maloofs "give a hoot about a community that embraces its only major league franchise like a family member, they should find a buyer who will keep the team here and partner with the city and AEG on a downtown arena." The Kings should "cut their losses and move on." That would be in the "best interest of the league and the city, and it would replenish the family's bank account in the process" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/29).