SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento is taking the first step in courting new Kings before the “Maloof Kings” officially announce an exit. Mayor Kevin Johnson is engineering a plan to hold onto the “Sacramento Kings” at least even without a team.
“The focus has changed, this isn’t about the Kings or the Maloofs anymore,” says Mayor Johnson.
Still sporting Kings colors, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has no hoop dreams; he’s expecting the Maloofs to move.
But, Thursday he vowed to try and save the Kings name, even if the owners take the team to Anaheim.
“What we will do is we will ask our City Attorney to look into this to see if we have any ability to keep the name of the Kings,” said Johnson.
The mayor is now borrowing a page from the city of Seattle script, which also lost an NBA franchise to another city, but retained the legal rights to the ‘Supersonics’.
“That’s what Seattle did; they fought like crazy to keep their name, the colors, the history and the prestige that went with their franchise,” says Mayor Johnson.
Kevin Johnson used his regularly scheduled public office hours inside a local middle school auditorium to talk about basketball and publicly financing an arena post Maloofs.
The mayor is aware Sacramentans voted down public financing in 2006, because of a perception the money would be going into already rich owner’s pockets.
“And now that they may not be in the equation, and that we’re doing it for Sacramento, what we need to do to be a quality top notch city, they’re more inclined to be open to it,” explained Johnson.
But business owners and Sacramento residents who attended the meeting didn’t see that as a top notch priority.
“I represent Valley Yellow Pages and we support and help small businesses,” said Andre Kristich.
But the Mayor is trying to stir new debate about publicly financing an arena, and with the Maloofs seemingly now out of the picture, voters may be more inclined to help build.