SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A day after news surfaced that the Kings’ owners don’t believe they should have to pay $3.26 million toward a new Sacramento arena, one of the brothers said Friday the family is still “100 percent committed” to the project.
The fee is for predevelopment costs of $13 million, of which the Maloof family has been asked to pay a 25 percent share.
“Our position all along on the predevelopment agreement has been the same,” George Maloof said in an interview with Grant Napear on 1140 The Fan. “As a tenant, we shouldn’t pay for predevelopment costs. I’ve never seen a tenant pay for those costs.”
Maloof said the family has taken issue with that and other aspects of the non-binding term sheet for the new arena all along, but that news of it broke to the public with a Los Angeles Times story on Thursday.
“It kind of just blew up,” he said. “That was kind of a shocker.”
Reaction to the story was swift, with Mayor Kevin Johnson suggesting in a statement that the Maloofs weren’t living up to their end of the deal the groups discussed during the All-Star Weekend in Orlando last month by balking on the payment. George Maloof took exception to that on Friday.
“The mayor said we all looked into each other’s eyes and said we had a deal. Well, that’s not really what happened. We looked at each other’s eyes and said we have the framework of a deal, and by the way, we have a lot of work to do,” he said.
“There’s issues on that term sheet,” he added. “But that doesn’t mean this deal can’t get done. We’re not looking at any other city. We’re not doing something to hinder this deal. Our intention is to work with the city and get something done at that site downtown.”
Since the reports Thursday, there have been questions on whether the Maloofs are having money issues and if they can come through with the $73 million they are being asked to contribute toward the railyards arena.
“We have a commitment for that money,” George Maloof said. “It’s not a money issue for us.”
The Maloofs threatened to move the team to Anaheim after last season, but NBA Commissioner David Stern stepped in and gave Sacramento one more chance to come up with an arena plan to replace the aging Power Balance Pavilion, formerly named Arco Arena, which opened in 1988.
The Sacramento City Council approved the term sheet earlier this month calling for the city to contribute $255 million toward the $391 million facility. The rest of the money would come from the Kings, the primary tenant, and arena operator AEG. The target date for the arena to open is in the fall of 2015.
The City Council is expected to vote on Tuesday on whether to approve its share of the predevelopment costs, $6.5 million. The NBA jumped in on Thursday and said it would pay the Kings’ portion of the first installment for predevelopment fees.
Johnson has said all along that his priority is keeping the same team and same owners in Sacramento. But as the Maloofs challenge the conditions laid out in the term sheet, could the mayor’s “Plan B” come into play? That would involve the same team, with new owners.
Sacramento has explored other options to hold on to an NBA team, the most notable being billionaire Ron Burkle. Sources tell CBS13 that Burkle is still a viable option for Sacramento, but a spokesperson for Burkle did not respond to calls or text messages Friday.
The other key players in the arena deal also held back on commenting to the media Friday.
When we asked the NBA about Burkle – or any other potential owners – a spokesperson said “no comment.” As for the arena operator, AEG, a spokesman said there is “no change on our part” when we asked about developments with the Maloofs.
As for Anahiem, home to the Honda Center, a press person told CBS13 they haven;t heard from the Maloofs lately, but “when a team is looking for a new home, we’re happy to talk to them.”