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Think Big Sacramento Director Issues Open Letter In Response To Failed Arena Deal

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SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) – The executive director of Think Big Sacramento, Chris Lehane, issued a statement Sunday in response to the announcement by Mayor Kevin Johnson that the deal to build a new sports arena was dead.

“Is the deal dead? As we know it, absolutely,” said Mayor Johnson at a press conference in New York Friday.

The Maloof family has balked at terms of the agreement reached last month, and though they say they want to remain in Sacramento, Johnson isn’t so sure after meeting with them Friday and hearing their list of concerns he said hadn’t previously been disclosed.

“It just feels like they were coming up with reasons of why not to do the deal,” Johnson said.

Admitting he was angry and questioning the Maloofs’ trustworthiness, Johnson praised his city’s efforts but said he doesn’t know what will happen now.

“They are now saying they don’t want to do the deal, which essentially means they don’t want to be in Sacramento, and that’s very, very disappointing,” he said.

The Kings say otherwise.

“We are committed to remaining the Sacramento Kings,” the team said in a statement.

But they stressed — as did Commissioner David Stern — that the deal was “always nonbinding,” and the Maloofs always had the right to decide they were no longer comfortable with the terms.

In an open letter, Lehane attempts to refute some of the accusations against the city by the Maloofs and offers “some thoughts on the future.”

A spokesman for the Maloof family responded that Lehane was unaware of the on goings of the negotiations and had no bases on making such statements.

“The Maloofs are not going to respond to every comment distributed from political operative Chris Lehane. Chris has never been part of the negotiations and does not know what he is talking about. Wild accusations cannot mask the financial calamity which would have befallen the City of Sacramento had the parties proceeded on a railroad arena project that made no economic sense. The spokesperson for the utility companies who caused the California energy crisis and Goldman Sachs during the financial crisis is apparently now hunting for his next crisis management client,” Eric Rose said in the statement.

Think Big Sacramento was started by Johnson to promote community involvement in the arena planning and building process.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS Sacramento. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Portions of this story were also provided by the Associated Press.)

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