NBA Kings Unveil "Indoor-Outdoor" Concept For New Downtown Arena
The NBA Kings yesterday unveiled an "'indoor-outdoor' concept they’re planning for the team’s new downtown arena," according to Kasler, Lillis & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. At a press conference "dominated by" new partner Shaquille O’Neal, Managing Partner Vivek Ranadive "dropped tantalizing hints about the design" of the $448M arena. He said that fans would "be able to see certain events from outside the building." Later yesterday, the Sacramento City Council "agreed to let the Kings accelerate repayment" of their $62M debt to the city by imposing a 5% surcharge "on tickets at Sleep Train Arena." The council also "OK’d a deal that would let the team reimburse the city for certain pre-development costs at the new building." Ranadive said the new facility “will be the first basketball arena that has this indoor-outdoor feature to it." He added, "For concerts and other events, you could actually completely open it up and have 18,000 people inside and another 10,000 people outside.” Kings investor Mark Mastrov said that the arena's bowl could be "partially viewable from outdoors via sliding glass walls." Attendees also would be able to "stand in an outdoor plaza and view events directly and on giant TV screens." Meanwhile, Ranadive said that the team "plans to televise its Oct. 30 season opener live in India." Ranadive: "There’s a billion people in India -- there’s going to be a lot of people watching. We want it to be ... the biggest opening night in the history of the NBA" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 9/25). O'Neal said, "We're going to be the first cashless arena. Come in with your phone, you know where your seats are, you know where the bathrooms are, the best concessions ... We're going to have the best arena in the world" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 9/24).
DIESEL FUEL: In Sacramento, Marcos Breton writes O'Neal's arrival "typified the unrelenting momentum behind the new Kings ownership to remake a franchise almost killed by its previous owners." Breton: "Just consider how all the Kings horses and all the Kings men (and women) are now on the same team as Shaq." Business, labor, and politicos from "both sides of the aisle are united." The California Legislature "couldn’t get a big overhaul of California environmental laws passed, but the regulations were tweaked to prevent pesky lawsuits from derailing the Sacramento arena that Shaq now wants." Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg "pulled the strings like a master on that one." Breton: "Think the governor won’t sign on?" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 9/25). ESPN L.A.'s J.A. Adande wrote, "Shaq gets it. He always did get it, at least when it came to business." He understood that a "career in sneakers, even a lucrative, Hall of Fame-worthy career, wasn't enough." He always "pursued outside interests, sought to broaden his profile and expand his business portfolio." Buying into an NBA franchise is "both a financial and symbolic victory." Teams might have "outrageous labor costs and lose money on an annual basis, but the long-term payoffs are outstanding" (ESPNLA.com, 9/24).
DOUBLE DUTY: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes O'Neal "will continue to work" as an analyst on TNT's "Inside The NBA" studio show. O'Neal said that he had the "time for both jobs and saw no potential conflicts of interest." But a studio analyst who "owns a small part of a team raises the appearance of conflicts if, for example, he does not divulge what he knows about a player because he is an insider." O'Neal: “I’m not going to hold nothing back because I’m a part owner." TNT has "permitted such arrangements before." Magic Johnson as a part owner of the Lakers "was a studio analyst for TNT before he moved to ESPN, where he plays a similar role." Steve Kerr also "stayed a TNT game analyst when he became a part owner" of the Suns (N.Y. TIMES, 9/25).