Reporting Koula Gianulias
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NEW YORK CITY (CBS13) – During a disjointed press conference in New York on Friday, Sacramento Kings co-owner George Maloof says there was never an arena deal, but that he believes negotiations are ongoing and even suggested renovating Power Balance Pavilion.
The Maloofs, along with their lawyers and an economist, held a press conference in New York laying out their concerns with a plan to build a new $391 million arena in the downtown railyards and saying there was never an agreement, only the framework of a deal.
Barry McNeil from the law firm of Haynes & Boone laid out a timeline of the negotiations between the Maloof family and Sacramento, stating the Maloofs had objected to the term sheet voted on by the Sacramento City Council before the vote took place on March 6.
McNeil also wanted to make clear that the term sheet agreed upon during the NBA All-Star weekend in Orlando was not legally binding and even said “there was never a deal.”
“We had objected, objected, objected, objected to its provisions,” he said.
Later, Christopher Thornberg of Beacon Economics talked about the numbers presented in the deal, saying a new arena would put Sacramento “on the edge of financial disaster.”
However, about an hour into the new conference, George Maloof said they still want a deal and that they are even willing to look at renovating aging Power Balance Pavilion.
“Why don’t we look at redoing Power Balance?” he asked. “It’s less money, less pressure on everybody. We already have the infrastructure, the parking. It’s all there, and the cost to the city would be a lot less.”
But even the Natomas Chamber of Commerce president questioned that idea.
Ed Koop fought hard to keep the Kings in his community so Natomas businesses wouldn’t suffer. But he says the Natomas arena was already analyzed and eliminated as an option.
“Everything I’ve heard and the people that I talked to say that the infrastructure that’s in place right now at Power Balance doesn’t really suit it to be refurbished.”
Maloof also said the family didn’t have much time to study the term sheet prior to meeting with Johnson and the NBA in Orlando at the end of February.
“The city didn’t have everything together until Feb. 19,” he said. “Who does a $400 million deal in eight days?”
Thursday, the Maloofs made a presentation to other NBA owners at the Board of Governors meetings about their issues with terms of the arena project.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson flew out to New York City late Thursday night, but before doing so he sent a letter to the Maloofs stating the city had no intention of negotiating new terms. The city has committed $255 toward the arena and the Maloofs would contribute $73 million. Arena operator AEG has committed $58 million toward the project.
“We are 100 percent committed to moving forward under the framework laid out in the term sheet,” Johnson wrote in the letter. “And there should be no expectation in (Friday’s) conversation that this deal is subject to further negotiation. In light of these facts, the ball is in your court.”
George Maloof said Friday that “if the mayor says he’s not negotiating, then he killed the deal and it’s over.”