SACRAMENTO, CA - In a vote that was widely expected to pass, Sacramento City Council members voted 7 to 2 to begin negotiations to build a new arena.
City council members, discussing the issue during its regular Tuesday night meeting, decided to allow the city manager to move forward with the arena plans was the next logical step.
City Manager John Shirey placed the item on the agenda last weekend, seeking the council's approval to formally begin negotiating the financing and construction of a new entertainment and sports complex. Without identifying the major-equity investors, Shirey said Mayor Kevin Johnson previously said talks were going well and the council should prepare to vote.
The vote also extends the city's current contract with the Dan Barrett Group, which has been advising on the arena discussions.
Making the decision Tuesday night was imperative; it was the last time council could make a decision before Sacramento's counter-offer is due to the NBA on March 1. Johnson and the city need to be able to tell the NBA the counter-offer is to purchase the Sacramento Kings as well as build a new facility.
NBA Commissioner David Stern has made it clear the Kings cannot stay in Sacramento without a new arena.
Last month, the Maloof family announced they had entered into an agreement to sell the Kings to Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, who would move the team to Seattle for the 2013-2014 season.
Johnson is hoping to block that sale by presenting an alternate, local ownership group. News10 has confirmed the local group consists of billionaire Ron Burkle and local millionaire Mark Mastrov. Burkle currently owns the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins. Mastrov earned his fortune after starting and then selling 24-Hour Fitness.