Continued from page 1

The final three phases of the mayor’s “Playing to Win” plan are finding the major financers to compete with the Seattle group’s offer, demonstrating the city’s commitment to a new downtown arena and showing the strength of the Sacramento market. None of those crucial pieces have been announced.

Some of the 20 proposed minority investors, two of whom Johnson said chose to remain anonymous, stood next to the mayor and spoke about why they agreed to non-binding pledges.

The group includes developer David Taylor, who backed a plan to build a $391 million arena in downtown Sacramento before the deal collapsed last year; Phil Oates, a developer and the son of Sacramento-area real estate pioneer Marvin “Buzz” Oates; and Kevin Nagle, a business executive and co-owner of the Town Center who helped increase Sacramento sponsorship and season-ticket sales when the Kings explored a move to Anaheim two years ago.

“I’m doing this for one reason: it’s time to fight,” Oates said. “Somebody wants something that I own. It’s mine, and I’m not giving it up easily. I owe it to my kids. I owe to my grandchild that’s going to be born in May and named after me. I owe it to my neighbors. I owe it to my friends. I owe it to (Sacramento) to fight and go down swinging.”

Johnson already has saved the Kings from relocation once.

In 2011, the mayor made a pitch to the NBA Board of Governors and bought the city time to broker a deal that appeared to solve the team’s arena woes. But brothers Joe, Gavin and George Maloof backed out of the tentative deal for a new downtown venue with Sacramento last April, saying it didn’t make financial sense for the franchise.

Many of those who participated in that plan, from public officials to private investors, showed up at City Hall to offer their vote _ or checkbooks _ one more time.

“The reason I’m committed to become a local member of the Kings‘ ownership is I really feel that we as a community need to get a return on all the hours and emotions that we spent trying to keep the team here,” Taylor said. “I think we’re owed a return on our investment.”

Johnson maintains that Sacramento’s biggest reason to be optimistic is that NBA Commissioner David Stern has granted him permission to address league owners and present a new ownership group and plan to keep the Kings.

The mayor commended Seattle’s efforts to be an NBA city again, which includes Hansen reaching an agreement with local governments in Seattle last October on plans to build a $490 million NBA/NHL arena near the city’s other stadiums, CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field. No construction will begin on that project _ which also faces a pair of lawsuits _ until all environmental reviews are completed and a team has been secured.

Seattle hoops fans have been reeling since owner Clay Bennett, ironically the chair of the NBA relocation committee now, moved the Sonics to Oklahoma City in 2008.

“When I played in the NBA for 12 years, Seattle had some of the best fans in the NBA,” Johnson said. “No different than Sacramento. Incredible fans. And when they lost their team a couple years ago, it was devastating to me, because those fans fought like crazy and rallied and they cheered on the home team. And I strongly believe they deserve an NBA team at some point. Just not ours.”

___

Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP