- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. (AP) - The NBA left town Tuesday.

There’s no guarantee it will be back.

Mayor Kevin Johnson, business leaders and fans have done all they could in the past few months to prevent the Sacramento Kings from relocating to Anaheim.

The final and perhaps most critical step came Tuesday, when the corporate community handed NBA representatives deposits on more than $10 million in sponsorship pledges for the Kings to stay at least another year.

“Today is another historic day in Sacramento,” Johnson said. “The NBA had said to Sacramento, `Show me the money.’ And today, we’re doing just that. We’re making a down payment on the future of the Sacramento Kings and this being their permanent home.”

Now the decision is out of the city’s control.

The NBA relocation committee headed by Clay Bennett _ who moved the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City three years ago as owner _ will issue a final report to Commissioner David Stern later this week. Then Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof will finally decide the franchise’s fate.

The Maloofs have until Monday to file a relocation request to the league, which fellow owners would have to approve by a majority vote. The Maloofs remain undecided.

Sacramento has used the two extensions from the original March 1 deadline to rally the business community and convince owners that Sacramento remains a viable NBA city. Johnson, a former NBA All-Star, has been at the center of that effort.

He promised additional revenue for the Kings from area businesses in a desperate pitch to NBA owners earlier this month in New York. The league first sent Bennett and league counsel Harvey Benjamin to Sacramento on a fact-finding mission last week, and the two dispatched additional representatives to verify the mayor’s claims.

Chris Granger, the NBA’s executive vice president who heads the Team Marketing & Business Operations division, was among those from the league who met with Johnson and some 30 business leaders at Golden 1 Credit Union in Sacramento.

Among the businesses represented were local branches of McDonald’s, AT&T, Anheuser-Busch, Jiffy Lube and Wells Fargo. All of those in attendance said the NBA representatives left impressed.

“Three weeks ago many of us were thinking that there’s not a chance that we’re going to keep the Sacramento Kings here in Sacramento. They’re going to move to Anaheim,” said Matt Mahood, president of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce. “But there was just this little crack, this little opening that the mayor saw to take advantage of.

“And he called us to rally the business community to demonstrate the kind of corporate support that we have here that it takes to keep the NBA franchise. And we put the call out to the business community, and they answered the call loud and clear. They have put their money where their mouth is.”

There are still major details that remain unsettled.

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