Four Keys From Recent Sacramento Arena Chatter

Momentum on the downtown Sacramento entertainment and sports complex has been picking back up, as both the Sacramento Bee and USA Today ran detailed stories on the subject this weekend. Here's a breakdown of five things to take away from the chatter.

1. It will be a publicly-owned facility. We had suspected this would be the case, but Mayor Kevin Johnson answered the question definitively in a talk with USAT:

The arena will be a publicly owned entity, and the Kings will be a tenant.

Any thought that a company like AEG would own and operate the building goes out the window.

2. The NBA is deeply, deeply involved here. Everyone puts the best spin on the situation that they can, and of course the city and the NBA have been saying all along that they are working together. I was skeptical that would be the case initially. Then the NBA sent Brian McInityre and a great team of marketers to Sacramento full-time. I had the pleasure of speaking with that team back in May, but I realize not everyone is as convinced that the NBA is fully dedicated to making this work. KJ's answer to the question of how often he speaks to the league should quiet those concerns:

How often to you talk with Stern?

We communiciate regularly. We talk as frequently as a couple times a week. ... There's some sort of communication between us. I think he's doing an unbelievable job of sending out his top lieutenants to make sure this project is working. My team and his team talk two or three times a day, in many cases. We're 100% in sync. ... Somebody who is as shrewd as the Commissioner who has seen this thing happen for 28 years, he knows where the pitfalls are. He knows where the optimism should be.

This is very, very good news. The Maloofs don't go anywhere or turn down anything without Stern's OK. If the plan is sound and the NBA is on board, the Maloofs don't have a choice. If the city and NBA are talking 2-3 times a day, there's no way the NBA won't be on board with the final product.

3. The city already has private investors in mind. Again, this was speculated to be the case, especially with respect to AEG. But Think Big Sacramento's Chris Lehane tells the Bee that it's looking more solid than had been previously reported.

Private investors also have been solicited for what could be tens of millions of dollars in upfront financing in exchange for a share of arena revenue.

This is critical funding for the project, given that it will be publicly owned. This is also something that the Maloofs controlled in the past. Without competition for arena revenue on the table, the Maloofs could feel free to negotiate for whatever stream they wanted ... like parking spots. (Cringe.)

Lehane goes on to say that the city has talked to AEG and ICON Group. Obviously, ICON was interested enough to volunteer to put together the feasability report last spring with David Taylor. Stay tuned.

4. The Maloofs still aren't thrilled about being forced to give Sacramento a chance. Well, at least George Maloof, ever content to look like a villain, isn't. Again, the Bee:

Kings co-owner George Maloof, who said he has not spoken with the mayor this summer, expressed eagerness last week to see the report, saying, "We're very optimistic it will be something we can work with." [...]

Maloof said he is holding the city to the March 1 deadline. "They've got to deliver. Everything has to be in place, ironclad. No risk. No ifs."

Uh huh.

***

The plan will be unveiled at a luncheon at the Sacramento Press Club on Thursday. The plan will then be presented to the Sacramento City Council next Tuesday. Here We Stay and Sactown Royalty are asking fans to show up to the City Council meeting wearing Kings purple and showing how important keeping the team and building an entertainment complex means to us.

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