SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The Sacramento Kings announced Monday that the Sleep Train Arena, which the state has been renting to treat COVID-19 patients, will be going into standby mode after the expected surge of patients never came.
The team announced it is amending its contract with the state and reducing the rent, but some say the amended contract doesn’t go far enough.
In a press release on Monday, the team said it is “reducing the rental rate from $500,000 per month to no cost.”
However, some critics say that statement is misleading as the team is not returning the $1 million in rent for April and May.
The agreement simply extends the $3 million contract from three months to seven months, should it be needed, with no additional rent.
The state has been paying the Kings half a million dollars a month to rent the arena in addition to utilities and employee salaries, which the state also had to pay.
Many were shocked to learn the Sacramento Kings were charging the state more than half a million dollars a month to rent the shuttered Sleep Train Arena, but maybe none more than long-time former Kings executives Tom Peterson and Mark Stone.
“Everyone I talked to just couldn’t believe it,” Stone said in an exclusive interview with CBS13.
“It seemed out of sorts with what our morals and core values were,” Peterson added.
The men said, under previous ownerships, the team had a history of donating the facility, free of charge, during a variety of emergencies. They don’t think the Kings should be charging the state any more than their monthly costs on the arena.
“You actually spoke with the Maloofs. You’ve spoken with several V.P.’s. What do you think the Kings should be charging under these circumstances?” CBS13 investigative reporter Julie Watts asked Stone and Peterson.
“It seems to come down around twenty or twenty-five thousand dollars a month,” Stone said.
In response, a spokesperson told CBS13 that their expenses on the shuttered arena are six-figures monthly.
The Kings defended the rent stating “per the state, our lease agreement is consistent with other similar alternate care facilities that have been created to support … the COVID-19 crisis.”
CBS13 requested copies of those lease agreements from the state 10 days ago but we have not received them yet.
Following our initial story, Stone and Peterson said they were contacted by national media outlets which, we’re told, also questioned the Kings about the rent ahead of today’s announcement.
Stone was disappointed to hear the Kings won’t be giving back the rent they’ve been paid so far.
“I wouldn’t have been contacting you if the deal was… covering their costs,” Stone said.
He doesn’t think the Kings should be profiting off the pandemic and should only be charging the state for costs above and beyond what they would otherwise paying.
“We’re talking about an arena that has been shuttered for years,” he said.
Under the amended contract, the arena will remain under state control through October 31, however, the team says it will be going into a “warm shutdown status effective the end of May” unless or until the facility is needed due to an outbreak.
So far, only six COVID-19 patients have been treated at the arena.
“I am grateful to the Kings for their continued partnership. Maintaining this facility allows the state and the region flexibility to safeguard the health and safety of the entire Northern Sacramento Valley,” said Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci.
The team noted that, early on, the Kings Foundation did commit to donating $250,000 to community organizations.