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September 23, 2009

KJ issues Kings move threat against self

It often seems like local politicians act more like advocates for sports team owners than like negotiators for the public good, but this latest from Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson takes negotiating against yourself to new heights:

After learning that Arco Arena is considered unsuitable to host a major college basketball tournament, Mayor Kevin Johnson said Tuesday that Sacramento could lose the Kings if efforts for a new arena aren't stepped up.
"If we don't have a clear path to an arena in the not too distant future, then we as Sacramentans need to know that [the Kings] very well may look elsewhere," Johnson said.

Johnson has stumped for a new Kings arena before — and he is, of course, a former NBA star — but learning that Sacramento was considered ineligible for the NCAA men's basketball tournament (yes, that again) seemed to push him over the edge, as he declared, "I've got to be more aggressive, and I've got to move the timeline up in terms of the arena. The timeline has to include an Option B, an Option C, and I haven't quite determined what we're going to do."

The most recent plan, you'll recall, was for a $1.9 billion arena-and-"living-village" that has no developer and no financing. Sacramento's downtown railyard may be back in play as well: The land's owners say they'd "absolutely" like to see an arena there, but aren't offering to build it or pay for it or anything.

Meanwhile, we can almost certainly look forward to more articles speculating where the Kings are headed without a new arena — though you can't help wondering, if a move were so enticing, why the team owners didn't skip town the last time we heard this kind of talk four years ago?


I almost thing it's gotta be KC. They have that huge NBA-ready arena with no major-league team. With all of Sacramento's problems, local taxpayer funding is dead. I'm doing my darnedest to educate people as to what "TIF" means; the tide seems to be turning there. No developer is interested. The State, the City and the County are all rather infamously out of money.

The NBA will try to block Anaheim. Vegas seems to have dropped the ball. That leaves KC or maybe, as a very long shot, San Diego.

Teams are losing their leverage, and that's an excellent thing. Losing NBA teams used to be a political hot potato; now it seems like attempts to keep them are. That's progress.

Here's hoping Mayor Shakedown loses.

Posted by MikeM on September 23, 2009 06:35 PM

As Lee Corso would say, "not so fast my friend!" The KC Star reported the Sprint Arena returned $1.8 million to the city and a lot of that is attributed to NOT having a tenant that commanders all the prime dates. I doubt KC will give away the store to get a team right now.

Posted by Chris M on September 24, 2009 11:41 AM

One thought has crossed my mind... The original loan to Jim Thomas wasn't technically a loan; it was a purchase-leaseback agreement. Technically, the City of Sacramento owns Arco Arena, and is leasing back to the Sacramento Kings, which originally meant Jim Thomas (since he owned the Kings# but now means the Maloof family.

Since Arco is so shabby, could they cancel the lease due to breach of contract? Could they claim that the City poorly maintained the Arena, therefore the Kings can leave and owe the City almost nothing? They'd give the City $20M and vacate the premises #the original collateral was the arena + $20M), and then just leave town?

Is this a possible outcome?

Posted by MikeM on September 24, 2009 12:03 PM

Where would they play in San Diego?

Posted by Dan on September 27, 2009 01:15 AM

San Diego Sports Arena. But it would have to be temporary though.

Posted by Daniel Francis on September 27, 2009 02:15 AM

Again my question is where would they play in San Diego. The San Diego Sports Arena is well below the minimum allowable home venue for the NBA, even short term. And long term there are no plans for any arena's in San Diego. Plus SD is having issues getting a stadium built for a team they already have in the Chargers.

Posted by Dan on September 28, 2009 07:14 PM

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