It’s all about the money.
It’s always been about money when it comes down to getting a new arena built in Sacramento and keeping the team in that city. But now it has come down to pulling out the checkbooks and committing to dollars and the negotiations are intense.
When David Stern talked about issue he sounded like the Stern during the summer lockout press conferences — guarded, talking about “if” and not “when” there would be a deal, even though they would be close.
The issue is who ponies up how much — the city wants the Maloofs to put up $80 million or more.
“We’d like (Sacramento), on behalf of the Maloofs, to make the largest possible contribution,” Stern said. “The city would like the Maloofs to make the largest — both have come up with very substantial contributions. It’s really getting there. It’s just not there yet. And we’re looking for other ways, imaginative ways, to bridge the gap.”
Stern said he met with Kevin Johnson, and the NBA and Sacramento city staffs have met and spoken in detail Saturday, with another key meeting coming Sunday.
“We have several remaining points that will not necessarily be guaranteed to be bridged, but we’re going to give it our best shot tomorrow at a meeting that’s going to be attended by me and my colleagues from the NBA, by the mayor and his colleagues, by the Maloof family representatives, and by members of the Relocation Committee,” Stern said. “And we all consider ourselves to have a March 1 deadline to either come up with a financing plan and a critical path to the construction of the arena or not.”
Stern walked the line between optimistic and cautious with his words.
“The Maloofs have stepped up, the City has stepped up. We’re having very intense conversations,” Stern said. “Sometimes the best intentioned and most fervent workers don’t quite get to the finish line because there are things that separate them. But I’m most impressed by both sides….
“So we’re going to see whether we can bridge that gap. I think both sides deserve it, particularly the City of Sacramento.”
We’ll know a lot more in the next week.
Seattle fans, before you get too optimistic, Stern was not exactly selling your proposed new arena plan (which needs a lot of money, too) as an option.
“All I can say is that Chris (Hansen, the billionaire behind the Seattle arena plan), who I had met about a year ago, called us two weeks ago to tell us what was going to be announced that Thursday, about a letter laying out a plan, and we thought it was a — it sounded okay to us. Go for it. That’s all.”