On Saturday, the Sacramento Bee's excellent Tony Bizjak reported that the Anaheim City Council would vote on a bond package to fund upgrades to the Honda Center, upgrades needed to bring the Sacramento Kings to Orange County. Those would include a locker room -- a pair of locker rooms, most likely -- and a new NBA practice facility.
But there's a hold-up. According to a source, the Maloofs and Anaheim Ducks owner Henry Samueli have been trying to push the item through, and wanted the City Council to discuss and vote on it at the council's March 22 meeting. But city staff wasn't comfortable with moving ahead quite that fast, and as Bizjak reports, the item will come up April 12, at the council's next meeting.
That's important because it really puts the squeeze on the Maloofs and Samueli to consummate a deal; Anaheim officials pushing for the move, according to the source, are less optimistic a deal will get down this season because of this specific delay. Anyone who has ever watched city politics can understand why: much less impactful items get delayed a meeting on a whim with regularity. The city is being asked to put scarce public dollars in play and at some risk to fund arena upgrades meant to benefit billionaires. I do realize that the OC is a different place, but it doesn't look particularly great.
Renovations were always going to be a part of any deal in Anaheim. That they won't be funded until the very last minute -- if even then -- is a blossom of hope for Sacramento. If Anaheim doesn't approve the bond issuance on April 12 by either declining or delaying it, the Maloofs will be faced with agreeing to relocate without the needed renovations in progress, and the NBA will be in the position of potentially being forced to approve a move to an arena without a practice facility, without dedicated NBA locker rooms.
Unfortunately, four of the five members of the Anaheim City Council are themselves wealthy business owners, and it would take a huge push from a skeptical citizenry to knock down the plan. But we can hope for a delay. Lord knows if a set of risk-laden guys like the Maloofs walked in and asked for this from Sacramento, it'd take two years to approve. Every second counts.