There was a ton of stadium news over the last 48 hours, but let’s get right to what I know you all want to hear about: What happened at the NBA meeting yesterday to determine whether the Sacramento Kings will move to Seattle or stay put?
Mayor Johnson and State Senator Steinberg arrived at the St. Regis hotel Wednesday morning to meet with the NBA and present their deal to keep the Kings.
Right, okay, the Sacramento contingent showed up, that’s nice. But then?
It may come down to who made the best presentation, but I doubt it. If it does, the Sacramento contingent led by Mayor Kevin Johnson was downright giddy following their meeting with the league’s joint relocation and finance committee.
At one point in their press conference, Johnson leaned over and hugged California Senator Darrell Steinberg. Again, I’m not sure what this all means.
So… anything on what happened inside the meetings? Anyone?
David Stern and Adam Silver held their own press conference afterwards and said that both sides gave great presentations, although no real details were released.
In other words: The NBA met (at the St. Regis Hotel for some reason, because apparently either NBA headquarters doesn’t have meeting rooms or, more likely, doesn’t have room service), both sides gave their presentations, and we’re not going to drop any hints on who the front-runner is, so back off, people.
Stern did provide a few hints at what the criteria for the decision will be, however, indicating, in the words of NBA.com’s David Aldridge, that the main questions “centered on the arena plans for each city — specifically, how soon they could go up, potential legal obstacles to the buildings in each city and the capital commitments that will be required from each group.” Stern called the existing arenas in Seattle and Sacramento “suboptimal” and noted that “there is no finality to the construction schedules in either city,” saying that the relocation committee has instructed the league to gather more information. In fact, the process could go beyond the April 17-18 league meetings, meaning a decision might not be made until an undetermined time in the future, though Stern said that “I wouldn’t expect it, if it does, to slide by a lot.”
Keeping in mind that Stern isn’t just reporting the facts of the meeting, he’s also sending a message to the two cities involved, that message seems to be: Nice arena plans, guys, but when can we actually see shovels hitting the ground? There’s been some speculation of late that Sacramento may actually have a leg up in that regard — though its arena finance plan hasn’t been officially approved by the city council and there are already threats of lawsuits and referendums, they have the advantage of the California law that was passed for AEG’s now-dead Los Angeles NFL stadium, which fast-tracks all development projects costing more than $100 million. In Seattle, development deals still need to take the slow track, with all that fussy “oversight” and “making sure it won’t be an environmental disaster” and stuff, meaning that even with its late start, Sacramento stands a better chance of opening a new arena by 2016 than Seattle does.
Would the NBA really make its decision based on one year’s difference in an arena opening schedule? Probably not, but still, Stern is sending a pretty clear message here: Talk to us till you’re blue in the face about how nice your cities are all you want, but we want to see ducks in a row on arena construction, and we want it now, and we’re not going to make a decision until we see it. (Not to say I told you so, but…) This is more and more looking like a bidding war now, not for the franchise but for the NBA’s blessing, and the currency is an arena plan that’s set in stone. It’s not at all clear how much elected officials in either city can do to make that happen in the next few weeks — or how long the NBA is prepared to wait to make a decision if they don’t — but if there are any fires to be lit under people, Stern just set them ablaze.