NEW YORK CITY - A little more than an hour-long presentation to the NBA Board of Governors relocation and finance committees was Sacramento's chance to convince the governorsthe Kings should remain in Sacramento.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, Vivek Ranadive, Darius Anderson,Mark Mastrov, Ron Burkle, and Senate President Darrell Steinberg were all part of the presentation Wednesday afternoon, which was closed to the public. However, at a news conference after the presentation, the Sacramento delegation said the presentation went very, very well.
"What we did was try to make their decision a little bit easier," Johnson said. "Number one: Does this team deserve to say in Sacramento?Absolutely. Here's why, and has our city gone above and beyond what was asked of it, and the answer is 'yes.'"
The subcommittee meeting was scheduled two weeks before the NBA Board of Governors meeting to listen to pleas from the Sacramento delegation and a Seattle delegation, comprised of Hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, Seattle Mayor Michael McGinn, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, and Kings' majority owners the Maloofs. The decision on whether or not to allow the Seattle ownership group to buy the Kings from the Maloofs will be announced during that meeting, which will be held April 18 to 19.
During the presentation, Johnson and Merchant outlined the city's plan to build an entertainment and sports complex in Downtown Plaza. The city, Burkle and the current owners of Downtown Plaza, JMA Ventures Inc., will build the arena; while running and operating it will fall to Burkle and JMA Ventures.
"Sacramento has delivered every single time we've been asked to do something. We've been a great NBA city and we're prepared to continue to be a great NBA city," Merchant exclaimed Tuesday night.
The key to the future of the Kings may lie with Ranadive. Apparently, he and NBA Commissioner David Stern had a very good dialog about making the NBA a global product. Ranadive talked to the subcommittee about the league's potential.
"I also wanted to say that all the questions were very, very fair. I think we answered them well, and it was a very positive discussion.I was able to share with them our articulation of the future of what we think they want the NBA to be. I called it NBA 3.0," Ranadive said during the news conference. "We made the case that there is only one fair way for this to conclude."
Steinberg's part of the presentation included how the state will speed up environmental studies and regulation permits to allow construction to begin on the arena as soon as possible.
"We made our case. The best defense is often a good offense, and some of the issues that maybe some of the skeptics are raising about the Environmental Quality Act and other issues, we were able to explain very clearly that Sacramento and California is prepared to do whatever it takes to avoid any unnecessary delay," Steinberg said at the press conference. "Of course, we'll insist always on a fair process and full review. But we will do whatever it takes to avoid unnecessary delay and make sure that this billion dollars of economic investment in downtown Sacramento, the hub of our region, the capital of California, three blocks from the capitol, that this comes to fruition."
The Sacramento ownership group will put up an undisclosed amount to buy the Maloof's share of the Kings. The group includes Tibco founder and Golden State Warriors minority owner Ranadive; Qualcomm owners, the Jacobs Family; 24-Hour Fitness founder Mastrov; supermarket mogul and Pittsburgh Penguins part owner Burkle; and at least 25 local investors.
The Seattle ownership group, headed by Ballmer and Hansen, offered to buy 65 percent of the team from the Maloofs for $525 million.
The Seattle delegation said they were pleased with their presentation and felt thatit was solid and thorough. Seattle Mayor MichaelMcGinnadded their side had more time to work on their presentation compared to Sacramento.
Stern said during his news conference Wednesday afternoon, the owners have so many questions that a decision might come later than their Board of Governors in two weeks.
"They're pushing us, and I guess all that we want to say about that is that we're doing it as fast as we collectively can together, and it made well slide past the board meeting, but I wouldn't expect it if it does to slide by a lot, because there's a combined interest in having some clarity come to this situation," Stern said.
Stern said the decision about the Kings is more complex than comparing the Sacramento market and the Seattle market, and their economic base.
"There's no question that Seattle is a vibrant and thriving market with plans for a great building, and Sacramento has been a great and supportive market of the NBA with plans for a new building," Stern said. "And so we need to flesh out for the owners, every owner seems to have a different question, but we've got a fair amount of work to do."
While the Board of Governors can block the Maloof's from selling to the Seattle group, they cannot force them to sell to the Sacramento group. If the NBA blocks the sale to Seattle, the Maloofs can hold onto the Kings, look for another ownership to sell to or sell the team to the Sacramento ownership group.