Sacramento Leaders Happy With Pitch To NBA Execs To Keep Kings

SACRAMENTO,Calif.– The battle to save the Kings wages on as NBA officials spend Day 2 in Sacramento at Power Balance Pavilion.

Members of the NBA relocation committee toured the former ARCO Arena this morning.  It’s unclear of they were accompanied by any members of the Maloof family who own the Kings.   CBS13 is being told the NBA representatives will now head down toAnaheimto hear that city’s pitch to get the Kings.

The arena tour comes the day after Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and other political and business leaders met with those NBA officials. 

A week after Johnson made a desperate pitch to the NBA Board of Governors inNew Yorkthat persuaded the league to dispatch a fact-finding team toSacramento, the mayor believes he made another splash when they arrived. He presented $9.2 million in commitments for new advertising, ticket purchases and other financial support from regional businesses and other backers to prevent the team from moving toAnaheim.

Johnson said his pitch to Clay Bennett, the Oklahoma City Thunder owner and the NBA’s relocation committee chairman, and league attorney Harvey Benjamin made a strong impression. He originally promised $7 million to league owners and NBA Commissioner David Stern.

“If you go back a week ago from today, we thought it was virtually over,” said Johnson, a former NBA All-Star. “And not only did we prevent the team from leaving, we got a chance to show them who we are. And when we said $7 million, and the commissioner said, ‘Well, prove it,’ he sent a team out and we over delivered. I mean, this isSacramento. This is what makes us great.”

Johnson, Bennett and Benjamin first met inCalifornia’s Capitol in the office of Senate President Darrell Steinberg. That meeting included local political leaders.

They later met at the U.S. Bank tower downtown with business leaders, including Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce President Matt Mahood. The relocation team headed by Bennett, who moved the Seattle SuperSonics toOklahoma Citythree years ago, also was expected to tour proposed sites for a new arena.

Stern wanted to investigate further because he said past arena efforts inSacramentowere “usually an eye-roller” and didn’t know if Johnson’s assertions were “real or a pie in the sky.”

“They’re sort of verifying some of the representations by Mayor Johnson about how to produce so much in increased sponsorships, so much in increased ticket revenues,” Stern said Thursday night inPhiladelphiabefore the 76ers-Heat game. “And as a result, if the team does come back or stay inSacramentofor another year, it will not only be much better off financially, but it will also give us the time to deliver a deal on a regional basis for a new arena.”

The pitch by business and political leaders centered on that regional effort — not just one by city ofSacramento, as in the past — to increase team sponsorship and finance a new arena. While Johnson has yet to publicly disclose the businesses involved in his secured commitments, other leaders backed up his claims to league representatives.

“Sacramentoput a stake in the ground today saying the Kings need to stay,” Mahood said.

Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof have until May 2 to request permission to relocate to Anaheim. After years of failed efforts to replace outdated Power Balance Pavilion, formerly called Arco Arena,Sacramento officials are using the extra time to show the NBA that they can finally agree on a plan to finance a new facility.

A new arena feasibility plan — the major sticking point in past efforts — won’t be completed until a few weeks after the relocation deadline. A majority approval by owners would be needed to approve the move, and political leaders inSacramentobelieve there’s still time to convince the NBA the Kings shouldn’t leave.

“I don’t think they have made up their minds,” City Councilman Rob Fong said.


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