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Question of the Day
But Joe, Gavin and George Maloof had since taken issue with some of the terms _ particularly environmental and pre-development costs that Johnson said made up less than 1 percent of the project’s cost. Under the agreement, the Kings and arena operator AEG each agreed to pay about $3.25 million in pre-development costs with the city paying the remaining $6.5 million.
“I think it’s fair for the Maloofs to say they don’t want to do that,” Stern said during a news conference after two days of owners meetings. “If they had done it simpler, earlier or more directly, it could have saved a lot of angst and trouble.”
The Maloofs made a presentation to owners Thursday, which they shared at a separate news conference Friday. They then met with Johnson for about two hours, a meeting Johnson called “relatively civil” but ultimately pointless _ and throws open further questions about the Maloofs’ financial capabilities.
“It just became clear that they’re not willing to honor what we laid out,” Johnson said.
During their news conference, the Maloofs said they liked Sacramento but insisted the arena project was too expensive. George Maloof said they had given the city a list of their concerns that needed to be addressed before they could commit to such a major deal.
Maloof even floated the idea of renovating Power Balance Pavilion. Stern said he didn’t know if that was possible, but Johnson strongly said he wouldn’t support the plan and that if the Maloofs wanted to do it, it would come without financial support from the city.
“Regardless of where you stand on the arena the facts are clear: The city stepped up and the Maloofs did not,” state Senator Darrell Steinberg said in a statement. “Sacramento deserves partners who will live by their word. I stand with the Mayor and the city to do everything possible to protect Sacramento’s interest. I hope the NBA and its owners do not allow this kind of bad behavior to occur without consequences. I look forward to meeting with Mayor Johnson and city officials to consider next steps.”
The Kings appeared set to move to Anaheim after last season, but Johnson flew to New York the day after the season ended and convinced owners to give the city one last shot. Johnson said the city had since reached “every benchmark, every milestone” in showing it could raise the necessary costs.
The NBA tried to make it work. Stern said the league advanced a $67 million loan from its league credit facility and he then authorized a further contribution of $7 million on top of that. He said the league was perhaps “over-optimistic.”
“I am extremely disappointed on behalf of both the Maloofs and the city of Sacramento, but I think that there’s nothing further to be done and this is a situation that the Maloofs will have to make judgments on and the city will have to make judgments on, because I think we have done as much as we can do,” Stern said.
Stern largely defended the Maloofs, though he took issue with assertions about the plan’s viability made by an economist during their press conference, calling his role “ill grace.”
Johnson has said Sacramento would be interested in keeping the Kings under another owner, but the Maloofs have repeatedly said they aren’t interested in selling, even as they have faced financial difficulties that left the family with only 2 percent of their ownership of the Palms Casino in Las Vegas.
The Kings are scheduled to play at Power Balance Pavilion next season. Stern wouldn’t speculate where they would play beyond that, and said if they sought to relocate, approval would be left to the relocation committee headed by Oklahoma City owner Clay Bennett. Kings coach Keith Smart said they won’t worry about that.
“You know what they say: As a coach and a player in this business, nothing is done until the paperwork is all signed. Nothing is done until all that is there,” he said before a game in Oklahoma City. “Right now, a lot of talk and a lot of different things going forward, but our focus is still on the game itself. We can’t control that. It’s in the right hands of people who are going to try to make the right decision from there. We’ll be ready to play, keep this team functioning and prepared to play every game.”
Anaheim is still very interested in luring a team to the city-owned Honda Center with the backing of Henry Samueli, the billionaire technology executive who owns the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. Samueli recently embarked on a $20 million improvement project, adding several amenities to the well-maintained arena by early 2013.
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