Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to meet Maloofs to resume talks about arena deal

5:16 PM, Apr 24, 2012   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - Both the City of Sacramento and Kings' owners the Maloofs feel that one more conversation can't hurt.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and Kings co-owner George Maloof will meet in Sacramento on Thursday to see if there is any way a deal to build an Entertainment and Sports Complex can happen.

Nearly two weeks ago, NBA Commissioner David Stern said the deal for a downtown Sacramento ESC was off after a tentative deal between the league, the city of Sacramento and the Sacramento Kings fell through because of disagreements over the term sheet. Johnson met with the Maloofs later that day, but it was clear the arena deal brokered several weeks earlier was dead.

"You can't leave any stone unturned at the end of the day," Johnson said. "The city's core principles aren't changing. Is there harm in having one more conversation and maybe get a deal?"

However, Johnson was very careful to say twice, he's not looking to spark false hope; what he is looking to do is exhaust every single option.

"All we've agreed is to keep the lines of communication open, have another meeting, and see if there's some reconsideration and see if we can get to where we need to be," Johnson said.

That sentiment is a stark contrast from Johnson's comments made in New York City when the deal fell apart. He said he didn't see an arena deal happening with the Maloofs still at the helm of the team.  He said that, hours after the Maloofs said revenue projections for the new complex are way off. They even hired an economist to back their play.

"They're going to double attendance at this arena as a result of the new construction?" asked economist Chris Thornberg. "That's not going to fly, that doesn't make any sense at all."

On the flip-side, the city said not only are those numbers correct, arena operating giant AEG and the NBA agreed to them.

So Thursday, they'll look at the root of the problem.

"If your revenue projections aren't something you agree to, then there's nothing else that can really be done," Johnson said. "The city has nothing to negotiate from that standpoint. It would really be agreeing on the revenue projections, and if we can agree on the revenue projections then I think a deal can happen."

George Maloof shared that sentiment, "[The projections] will be a topic of discussion. We need to get comfortable with those before we can move forward and build a model."

What's clear is after Thursday's meeting, we should know the fate of the original plan once and for all.

"We'll be able to walk out of that meeting saying we have a deal, or we have the makings of a deal, or we don't have the makings of a deal and this deal is not going to happen," Johnson said.

Meanwhile, the city is still exploring a Plan B to get an arena built. There are challenges, the obvious one, financing without Maloof money.

A report is expected on the city's other options on May 8.

By Nick Monacelli,


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