Sacramento Officials Now Turn Attention To Arena Financing Plan For NBA Kings
Following Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson's announcement last week of the local ownership group to buy the NBA Kings, it is "up to City Manager John Shirey and his arena negotiating team to come up with a viable way to pay for demolishing part of Downtown Plaza and replacing it with an arena -- at a price tag estimated at $400 million," according to Tony Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. City officials on Friday said that the group of consultants and city staff members is "well on its way to preparing a preliminary term sheet to present to the City Council for discussion -- at more than one meeting -- likely in early April." The city is up against a "mid-April deadline to put together an arena deal in its effort to keep" the Kings from moving to Seattle. NBA officials said that for Sacramento's offer "to be taken seriously, it must include definitive plans for a new arena" (SACBEE.com, 3/1).
TUG OF WAR: In Sacramento, Kasler, Bizjak & Lillis wrote the Kings' potential move to Seattle is a "billionaires' tug of war over one of the lowliest franchises in pro sports, and at this point it's hard to predict who will win." Adding to "the mystery is that the NBA has" told 24 Hour Fitness co-Founder Mark Mastrov and Penguins co-Owner Ron Burkle, along with potential Seattle owners hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer "to keep quiet." With the bid for the team "now in the hands of the NBA, city officials" last Monday "turned their attention back to negotiating a subsidy for a new arena." City officials expressed "confidence that they could reach agreement with Burkle and Mastrov after years of frustration dealing with" Kings Owner the Maloof family. Shirey said with Burkle and Mastrov, "We have a more financially secure partner to work with." The Maloofs have "essentially been shunted to the sidelines." Sources said that Mastrov, who is "taking the lead on bidding for the team, knows the Maloofs and has a good relationship with them." Burkle "clearly commands NBA Commissioner David Stern's respect." Stern granted Burkle a "two-hour audience in New York in late January." A source said that Burkle and Stern "also spoke over the phone Thursday" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/2). Also in Sacramento, Marcos Breton wrote Burkle "built a fortune by identifying undervalued assets and turning them into valued ones." Is there a "more compelling proposal to energize the dead spots in downtown Sacramento? No. That's the point here." There "aren't any prospects more compelling than this one." The "value for Sacramento would be in transforming nothing into something." Some still think more than $200M in public funds is "too much for a $400 million arena, but consider this: It's not just for an arena" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/3). Meanwhile, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the league has "no issue" with Burkle's role in pursuing the Kings (TRIBLIVE.com, 3/1).
JOHNSON EYED FOR UNION POSITION? CBSSPORTS.com’s Ken Berger wrote Johnson already has “done more than anyone could have expected” in his quest to keep the Kings in the city. In fact, sources said that his name has “come up in the tight circle of those contemplating who would be a viable replacement” for former NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter. People active in the union have been “inquiring privately as to whether Johnson would be interested in being considered once his second mayoral term is up in 2016 -- one year before the owners or players can opt out of the current CBA.” Berger: “The idea of Johnson bringing his political agility and resourceful leadership to the players' fight in the next round of bargaining has merit” (CBSSPORTS.com, 3/3).