“I know we got their attention and we gave them something to think about,” Mayor Kevin Johnson sounded like the player who’d just stolen the ball with enough time on the clock to score the winning basket. Johnson spent 30 minutes with the NBA’s Board of Governors’ in New York City on Thursday, pleading his case on behalf of Kings fans, ”Clearly the stakes are high, there’s much at stake here. And I think we laid out a compelling case for why it makes more sense to stay in Sacramento than to go to Anaheim.”
Johnson was flanked by prominent arena developer Tim Romani from the ICON Venue Group and one of two interested investors, Darius Anderson. The Mayor also told the NBA $7 million has been committed in less than a week by corporations willing to support the Kings in Sacramento. ”There’s an opportunity to increase revenue in Sacramento. We have a corporate base that can step up. And that dollar, and increased revenue stream made the owners perk up a little bit.”
Then there’s this wrinkle, a growing number of NBA owners are reportedly against the move including the Bay Areas’ Golden State Warriors. But leading this charge is Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss. The owners are concerned about a precedent setting decision. If you can put three teams in Southern California, then why not three in the New York area; or two in Chicago, or two in the Bay Area. That, in theory, threatens their bottom line.
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait made the trip to New York City and sat with the Maloofs for over an hour as they answered questions from the NBA. Tait wouldn’t reveal much, but he did say ”Orange County is its own market; we’re different from Los Angeles. And we believe we can fully support an NBA franchise.”
But the move might come at the expense of the Lakers or, LA’s other team, the Clippers. The Kings TV contract pays the team $11 million a season. But a move to Anaheim according to ESPN, a prominent sports television network, could increase that from $33 million to $44 million a season
In Sacramento, the NBA would remain the only game in town. And, when asked by the owners “What’s different this time?” Mayor Kevin Johnson told them: Sacramento now has the POLITICAL WILL. ”If anybody thinks we’re going to sit on our hands and roll over and just let somebody leave town and not put up a fight? They’d be gravely mistaken. I think the owners appreciate our tenacity.”
George Maloof, one of the Kings owners, emerged from Thursday’s meeting briefly and told the Sacramento Bee, “Nothing’s for sure until it’s voted on.”
That doesn’t sound encouraging, but the Maloofs are done with their relocation proposal and now it’s a waiting game.
The paperwork deadline for relocation is this Monday, April 18th. From there the NBA has four months to make a decision. But when you start adding up all the numbers you have to wonder how is this going to work? The NBA has never tried to put three teams in the same media market. Oklahoma City was charged a $30 million relocation fee when the team left Seattle. Does that mean the Kings are going to pay double that to compensate the Lakers and Clippers? And, don’t forget the Kings still have to payback a $77 million loan to the city of Sacramento before they can move.
That’s a lot of strings attached and we aren’t talking shoe laces.