As NBA Vote Draws Near, George Maloof and Anti-Arena Groups Speak Up

Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

George Maloof gives one of his longest interviews in the past year to Bryan May, and two anti-arena groups reveal their plans to try to stop the development of a downtown Entertainment and Sports Complex.

Despite a prevailing sentiment that tomorrow the NBA's Board of Governors will deny the relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle as well as the sale of the team to the Hansen-Ballmer group, the current saga will not be over and done with until two final hurdles are cleared: Dealing with the Maloof family and building a downtown arena.

We got a bit of news today on both those fronts.

First, Bryan May spoke with George Maloof for an extensive interview in Dallas.

So bottom line, George is being George, and I don't know what bap is.

A more important development is two anti-arena groups revealing their hand. The STOP (Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to PORK) group has partnered with an Orange County group (The Taxpayers for Safer Neighborhoods) to run a signature-gathering campaign for an initiative on all public subsidies for arenas. According to the Bee's Ryan Lillis, the group would need to gather 33,000 valid signatures plus a buffer if they wanted to call a special election, or 22,000 valid signatures plus buffer if they want to wait until the next regular election in June of 2014. The group would also have 180 days to gather the signatures from the time of filing, which is expected to be tomorrow.

According to Cal Access, the Taxpayers for Safer Neighborhoods group currently has $570.50 in cash on hand. They did raise (and spend) upwards of $100,000 in 2012, but as Ryan Lillis points out, none of that was from the Sacramento region. STOP has not filed their most recent statement yet, but a Facebook post from May 10th by their president, Julian Camacho states that they have "raised sufficient resources to begin gathering signatures".

Camacho also joined James Cathcart and Isaac Gonzales in filing a lawsuit today alleging the city of Sacramento has broken the law and misrepresented the facts regarding the $258 million public subsidy for a new downtown arena.

Their lawsuit alleges that the subsidy is more like $338 million and that the Mayor and City Manager purposely undervalued certain assets so as to provide secret kickbacks to the Ranadivé group to make up for the inflated purchase price of the Sacramento Kings. The plaintiffs claim to have knowledge of these secret subsidies being offered. These same plaintiffs had filed a public request for all documents, e-mails, etc. regarding the arena project a few weeks ago. The city did respond by handing over the documents.

Among the "secret kickbacks" listed in the lawsuit, the plaintiffs say that the city is not assigning a value to the 2,700 parking spaces it is handing over to the Sacramento Kings ownership group, is not assigning a value to some property that would be used as billboard sites, and undervalued the seven parcels of land that are being given to the ownership group by the city.

The Bee article covering the lawsuit was unable to reach city officials for comment, but later in the day Sacramento City Attorney James Sanchez released this statement (courtesy of Aaron Bruski):

"We have reviewed a copy of the Soluri complaint and believe that the public record on the Council action to approve the preliminary term sheet is supported by substantial public benefit. We are prepared to defend the Council decision as necessary and do not believe this lawsuit has merit."

Mayor Johnson was also asked about the lawsuit when he landed in Dallas today, and called the lawsuit "baseless".

Sports Illustrated's Sports Law Expert Michael McCann offered a few opinions of his own on the lawsuit through Twitter today:

As did Aaron Bruski:

If you would like to read the lawsuit in full, Chris Daniels of King5 was courteous enough to post a link to it.

For my own thoughts on these lawsuits, Tom wrote something back in late March that still rings true to me today:

"If there's really a groundswell of opposition to this plan, prove it. But until then, forgive me for remaining unconvinced Sacramentans don't support this plan"

Finally, for those that hadn't seen yet, it has been confirmed by multiple reporters that the NBA Board of Governors meeting tomorrow will begin at 11 AM Pacific Time, with no scheduled end. Both sides will present and then a vote(s) will occur. David Stern will hold a press conference afterwards. Plan accordingly.

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