Kings owners need to do it differently this time, mayor says

10:55 AM, May 3, 2011   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - Still riding the accomplishment wave, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is taking a long, hard look at what needs to be done to permanently keep the Sacramento Kings in California's capital.

Tuesday morning News10 interviewed the mayor at city hall, where he was nothing but optimistic for the Kings' future.

"Three weeks ago we didn't think we had much of a chance and it was very exhausting, so I felt spent yesterday," Johnson said. "But now we're ready to go back to work -- re-energized."

Within the next 10 months, city leaders need to come up with actual plan, not just an idea, to build a new sports and entertainment complex. In the past, Johnson has said it will most likely be built at the site of the railyards.

The Maloofs have already said if a plan isn't in place by March 1, 2012, they will move the team. The NBA said it will support them.

"Our community is up for that challenge," said Johnson. "It's not a threat. We want to be held accountable to that deadline and we're going to do everything we can to make it happen."

Johnson is already planning a different game this time around. Looking back at failed attempts, especially in 2006 when voters turned down tax measures to help fund a new venue, the mayor said everyone needs to do things differently.

Johnson said, "They (the Maloofs) have to go out and engage in the community. They have to be out there too, or somebody from their organization, saying, 'We're engaged. If we can do this, we going to be here for the long stop.'" 

That isn't to say the Maloofs need nudging.

"The Maloofs in their conversations yesterday said they want to play, 'We want to be on a winning team, we're going to do our part, we're going to fully cooperate, and together let's see if we can make that happen.' I think we can," Johnson said.

The mayor also said the owners of the Kings have agreed to fully disclose their financial information so the David Taylor/ICON Venue Group can build a complete feasbility study.

The study will be presented to the Sacramento City Council on May 26.

It's assumed the study will have a funding gap, which Johnson said will necesitate a public and private partnership and will include the Maloofs.

"They're going to have to participate by this public-private partnership. They're going to have to put dollars in some shape or form. What that is or how much we don't know yet. But they're going to have to participate," said Johnson.

He also said his first objective is still to protect the taxpayers.

"Maybe there's a new way to help finance this darn thing. We going to find all of our options, everything is on the table, but at some point between May, June and July, we going to have to say, here is what we think is the most likely scenario to finance a new arena, get out and talk to the public, try to get people on board. That's why the regional committment is so important."

The NBA is helping prepare the Kings for the 2011-12 season.

Johnson said communication and marketing staffers from the league are already in Sacramento to help make up the two months lost in ticket sales, as well as help with plans for a new arena.

By Nick Monacelli,


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