SACRAMENTO (CBS13) –– The announcement that the Sacramento Kings will remain at the state capital for another year has brought renewed pressure on regional leaders to come up with an arena plan and find the money to build it.
Mayor Kevin Johnson joined with other officials Monday to celebrate the news that the Maloofs would not file to relocate the franchise this year, calling the community effort “one of the proudest moments in my life” and promising transparency in the effort to fund the new arena.
“We are all collectively going to find a way to get the ball across the finish line,” Johnson said. “And part of that is building a new entertainment and sports complex — not for the Maloofs, not for the Kings, but for the best interest of Sacramento.”
State Senator Ted Gaines (R-Roseville) praised the new developments and said the news added to the excitement of the day: “Bin Laden is dead and the Sacramento Kings are alive!”
Johnson and other civic leaders have been pushing for a new arena in downtown Sacramento to replace the Kings’ current home north of downtown. It was built in 1988 and is considered insufficient by today’s standards.
NBA commissioner David Stern said league officials will provide as much help as it can to city officials to get the project off the ground, but warned that there may not be another attempt if this one fails.
“We’re going to put all of our efforts in Sacramento and make it happen and make it succeed,” Stern said, “but if it can’t, if this becomes the 5th or 6th or 7th, it’ll be the last… effort with respect to an arena.”
A vote in 2006 on a quarter-cent sales tax in Sacramento County to fund a new arena failed overwhelmingly, 80 percent to 20 percent. Even though public dollars would have been used to pay for the arena, that deal had been structured strongly in favor of the Maloof family.
City leaders hope the groundswell of support from grassroots movements will help push a deal through.
“We had a near-relocation experience and I think it’s gotten everyone’s attention,” said Councilman Robert Fong.