Tag: Kings to Anaheim

David Stern

With Sacramento arena deal all but dead, Stern says league has done all it can


David Stern’s press conference Friday afternoon sounded a whole lot like a eulogy for the Kings in Sacramento.

Stern said Friday afternoon following the two-day NBA Board of Governor’s meeting that a handshake deal reached All-Star Weekend to get a new arena built in Sacramento was basically dead. While he would not use that exact word Stern sounded like a guy resigned to seeing a team move. Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson and the Maloof family that owns the Kings are reportedly meeting Friday but that is a Hail Mary at this point – George Maloof said there is no deal and Johnson said the city was done negotiating.

“We had an agreement in principle, a framework, a deal. Call whatever you want,” Stern said at the press conference broadcast on NBATV. “In my view, it was subject to any party who said didn’t want to do it. It was always non-binding… I think it’s fair for Maloofs to say ‘I don’t want to do it.’

“If they did it a little earlier, a little simpler and a little more directly, it could have saved some angst.”

Stern’s body language and tone suggested he felt bad for Mayor Johnson and the fans of Sacramento, who had stepped up. Stern said several times that the city had done all that could be asked of it.

“I am extremely disappointed, on behalf of Maloofs and city of Sacramento, but I think that there’s nothing further to be done,” Stern said. “This is a situation that the Maloofs will make judgments on and city will have to make judgments on. I think we’ve done as much as we can do.”

While the team has not yet filed for relocation — to Anaheim most likely, although there are other options — it would be surprising if that does not come soon. The Maloof family has said they wanted to stay in Sacramento but their actions said otherwise.

Stern said the league is scheduling the Kings games next season into the Power Balance Arena in Sacramento, but he could not speak to anything beyond that. But the way co-owner George Maloof burned bridges in Sacramento with his Friday press conference in New York it’s just hard to see them staying.

And, as owners, that is their right.

The NBA treats its owners like feudal Lords who can pretty much do what they want in their fiefdoms. David Stern works for and at the pleasure of the other owners. While he took a couple shots at the Maloofs press conference, Stern said repeatedly the Maloofs were within their rights to make the moves they did. As owners paying into an arena project, they had the right to raise concerns and back out.

The other owners, who might want to use that same “we might leave town” leverage down the line on their cities, are not about to tie the hands of the Maloofs.

And so a good NBA fan base in Sacramento is about to lose its team.

David Stern comments about Kings arena situation with typical coded message

team maloof with stern

David Stern took a moment to address the Kings arena situation in Utah before Wednesday’s game against the Suns. Brian Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune has been a great resource for the Kings arena information and he brought this quote to print:

Stern on how he feels about the Kings staying in Sacramento, compared to when a tentative deal was reached during All-Star weekend:

You know, I’m more hopeful than I am confident right now. I’m hopeful because the city of Sacramento has between last meeting and this, has been responsible for responding on a sponsorship basis, on a ticket basis and on allocating $250 million or so for a new arena. In basically a week — what’s today? Wednesday — in a week, our owners will be coming in for meetings next Thursday and next Friday, and we’ll be having the Maloofs in to talk with some group of them and we’ll see where it’s going. Very, very hopeful that it gets on track, because the owners have a respect for the Maloofs. And I think the owners also have an enormous respect for what Sacramento has done over the years in supporting an NBA franchise. And it’s always been our first preference — particularly when government agencies or states are helpful — to keep a team where a team is if they’re playing in a good facility.

Despite Stern’s downgrade from ‘confident’ to ‘hopeful,’ this should come across as pretty good news to Kings fans. The city has hit all of the marks on Stern’s list, and by making remarks about how the owners respect the Maloofs – he’s making the not-so-subtle implication that he expects them to continue earning that respect.

As I wrote earlier today, all eyes will be on the Board of Governors meetings on April 12-13 when the NBA is expected to decide what to do about the Maloofs’ recent refusal to pay arena pre-development costs.

Sacramento City Council takes unanimous step toward key arena vote

kings purple

One vote down to bring a new arena to Sacramento, one more critical vote to go.

Tuesday, the Sacramento City Council voted unanimously to continue finalizing proposals with private parking companies, who will in turn provide $200 million or more toward a new Entertainment and Sports Complex. For that money, the winning bidder will have the right to operate the city-owned parking assets for up to 50 years. This is a critical piece of mayor Kevin Johnson’s plan to keep the Kings in Sacramento, and a ‘no’ vote last night would have sent the team packing, though as I reported earlier Tuesday it wasn’t going to come to that.

That report also included a breakdown of the situation and news that the council will have the votes to approve an arena deal before the March 1 deadline, so long as a laundry list of achievable criteria is met.

That criteria, including safeguards on the parking deal and project cost overruns, is going to be worked out over the next two weeks as the city, the private parties, the NBA, and the Maloofs will come together to create a term sheet for the council to vote on. The vote is expected to be held on February 28, but it’s possible, even likely, that the NBA will allow for an extension on their deadline so they can review the terms at a reasonable pace. That announcement could come on All Star weekend.

Tuesday’s vote wasn’t expected to be contentious, but hundreds of Kings fans still showed up to make their case to the council. They wore white T-shirts with words such as growth, economic engine, events, downtown, nightlife, etc, and did their best not to recreate the acoustics in Power Balance Pavilion.

While there were eight speakers signed up make the opposition’s case, mayor Johnson was forced to limit public comment in support of the arena due to obvious time constraints.

After about 20 arena proponents were allowed to address the council, Johnson asked those in support of the arena that didn’t get a chance to speak to stand up and be recognized. Nearly everybody in the double-decker room stood up.

For well over five years Sacramento has been seen as impotent in its ability to get an arena deal done, but even council members that are in opposition of the current deal seemed resigned to their fate. Sandy Sheedy, the most vocal opponent of the deal, put up little to no fight on the issue and the other opponents chose not to speak. Surely they could be saving their breath for when the games count, but in doing so they lost a critical chance to curry favor with the anti-arena crowd, if it even exists.

The vote in 2006 to implement a sales tax for a new Kings arena lost by an 80-to-20 margin, but what most people don’t know is that it was an extremely flawed and eventually abandoned measure that never had a chance.

Tuesday night a strong message was sent to the NBA and competing cities that an arena deal is coming.  Staring into the sea of white T-shirts, with little to no opposition to be found, it was hard to understand how it took them so long in the first place.

Sacramento City Council has votes for arena if reachable criteria is met

Inside Kings Arena

The Sacramento Kings and their fans will hold their breath on Tuesday night, as the Sacramento City Council holds the first of at least two critical votes that will determine whether or not the team leaves town.

Let me be the first to tell you that tonight’s vote will pass.  Sources close to the situation report that the council is all but certain to have the votes necessary to move the process forward.

Specifically, the vote will allow the council to finalize proposals with ten competing private parking operators that will provide upwards of $200 million toward the cost of the estimated $387 million Entertainment and Sports Complex.

This will setup a vote on February 28 that will decide the Kings’ future.  It is at this time that the council, in cooperation with mayor Kevin Johnson’s Think Big Sacramento coalition, will vote to approve a term sheet that will signal to the NBA that Sacramento can indeed fund an arena.

I’m also told by sources with knowledge of the situation that as long as a laundry list of criteria is met, the council will have at least the four votes necessary (not counting Johnson’s tie-breaking vote) to approve the term sheet.

This laundry list includes guarantees that the city’s general fund will be replenished by the approximate $9 million annual revenue stream currently provided by city-owned parking operations, a plan for some or all of the city’s employees to be transferred into the new parking company’s operation, a mechanism to cap rate hikes for parking in the future, an option for an agreement shorter than 50 years, and a mechanism to provide kickbacks to the city if parking revenues exceed certain benchmarks.

It is believed that within that framework, the city can meet or exceed their $200 million target.

The last major item on the laundry list is who will be responsible for cost overruns if the $387 million project goes over its budget.  I’m told the city will approach the developer, David Taylor, to potentially provide that guarantee.  While it is unclear whether or not Taylor would shoulder such responsibility, he will likely be given incentive to do so by an offer of development rights near the arena.

Taylor has been working on the arena deal for years and has evaluated the project for Sacramento at a significant cost to himself, and it would be surprising if he told the council that he would not be responsible for cost overruns on a project he evaluated and promoted – particularly if there is further incentive in the form of development rights.

Adding the estimated $200 million or more from parking, an estimated $30 million from local hotels, an estimated $50 million from an arena operator (AEG), and an estimated $80 million from the NBA and the Maloofs — sources tell me that the city is well in the ballpark of securing the financing necessary for the arena.

In other words, the city of Sacramento has both the will and the way to secure a ‘yes’ vote for an arena.

As far as the timing goes, while February 28 is potentially the date for a deciding vote, it is likely that the NBA will allow for an extension on the March 1 deadline so they can properly evaluate Sacramento’s findings.  That announcement could come during All Star weekend.  The NBA and the Maloofs could theoretically act on the city’s proposal quickly and provide their terms in time for a February 28 vote, but sources stress the important part is that the city will have communicated that it is ready to vote on a deal.

From there it is on David Stern and the Maloofs to pull the trigger on the estimated $80 million price tag, which amounts to about $3 million per year in rental payments for 30 years, all paid up front.

As for any talk of selling the team, The Maloofs have been consistent with their message that it’s not an option, and their sale of the Palms can be seen as either a sign that the ship is sinking or a sign that they were moving money for the purposes of an arena.  In the unlikely event they do want to sell, Think Big Sacramento executive director Jeremiah Johnson told Seattle’s King 5 News that the city has “a number of ownership groups willing to keep the Kings in Sacramento.”

It’s not going to come to that.

The Maloofs and/or the NBA could try leverage the city of Anaheim against Sacramento, who recently made improvements on their NBA-ready facility, but after Jerry Buss and Donald Sterling just agreed to revenue sharing with small market clubs it’s less likely that the NBA will place another team in their backyard.

As for Seattle, despite their clear efforts to bring an NBA team back home, they are well behind Sacramento in their pursuit of an arena.  They too would have to approve public funds for a new building, and Stern and the Maloofs will have to weigh the $80 million cost of a sure thing given a ‘yes’ vote, and a nebulous offering in Seattle that is 1-2 years away while Key Arena is a stop-gap solution at best.

With all of the support David Stern and the NBA has given Sacramento in its fight to keep the Kings – from manpower in the front office to people on the ground helping make the arena deal a reality – it just doesn’t make sense for them to pass up a viable option for two that have problems.

This is a complex situation and it is not a done deal, but the once half-court shot turned 3-pointer doesn’t even seem like a free throw at this point – it seems like a layup.  The Party of Five that voted down a public vote that would have sent the Kings packing are interested in a deal that addresses the aforementioned criteria.  That criteria reportedly can be met and still provide the project with the money that it needs to be green-lighted, assuming the private parties each put in amounts that seem reasonable, achievable, and already written in pencil.

Kings fans will probably wait until the shovels hit the dirt before they celebrate.  Let this prediction be the first bottle of Dom Perignon.

The Kings aren’t going anywhere.

Kings Arena Update: Critical Sac City Council meeting postponed at last minute


It’s been a while since we checked into the Sacramento Kings’ arena situation, which almost faced another crucial moment on Tuesday when the Sac City Council meeting was set to turn into a shootout at the Cowbell Corral.

On one side, arena opponent and council member Sandy Sheedy was ready to force debate on whether or not the city should hold a public vote on the issue in June. On the other side sits a city council that I’ve profiled in the past as being receptive toward approving the approximate $400 million Entertainment and Sports Complex. Only one other council member, Darrell Fong, has joined Sheedy in voting against a handful of critical procedural issues so far. If a new arena deal is not finalized by March 1, the NBA and Maloofs are going to move the Kings to Anaheim.

By the way the city charter in Sacramento is set up, the elected representatives of the city council are supposed to vote on matters like these. Sheedy wants to depart from that history and bring the vote to the public, knowing full well that a vote in June would be pointless because the Kings would already be gone.

Why is she anti-arena?  It’s certainly not to save money for the city or to stand for economic principals. Sheedy is widely believed to be seeking political revenge against Kevin Johnson after she supported his run for mayor, but did not get a seat in his inner circle. Her seat is also up for grabs in the next council election, and with her district in economic chaos many of the city insiders I have spoken with don’t like her chances to repeat. This is her Hail Mary attempt at taking a position that is different from the pro-arena stance of her challengers, while trying to capitalize on an anti-arena sentiment that may or may not exist. It’s a gamble, but it’s also Sacramento politics at its finest.

More importantly to the reporting of whether or not it will be the Sacramento Kings or Anaheim Royals, Tuesday was going to force city council members to speak on the record about the arena once again. Specifically, they would have to either support or defend Sheedy’s obstructionist play. And just like the past meetings where council members were mostly transparent about their goals, we were going to get a real good read on where folks stood.

That is, until Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee reported that Sheedy called a timeout.

Apparently known arena proponent and councilman Rob Fong couldn’t make Tuesday’s meeting and Sheedy wanted the entire council to be present. Maybe this is a simple coincidence, but with the clock ticking it also wouldn’t be surprising if the absence is related to her opposition. If we’re going down that road, it won’t be surprising to see her gain something in relation to the arena issue as well as her campaign, with the delay setting the stage for her to gracefully back off.

Then again, maybe Fong had business to attend to and Sheedy is going to both reschedule and show up dressed as a purple Grinch.

Either way, we’ll find out soon if Sacramento has the money and votes to pull off one of the bigger saves in modern civic history.