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Time May be on Sacramento's Side in the Race to Keep Kings

In some ways time is working in the Kings favor.  Extending the relocation deadline allowed Mayor Kevin Johnson to WOW the NBA during last weeks governor’s meeting in New York City.  Time exposed cracks in the deal with Anaheim, and time will give the Mayor the chance to sell the public on a new arena.  But there are a lot of moving parts to this plan and any one of them could tip the scales.

In Anaheim the petition drive continues, but there are now enough signatures to push that $75 million relocation bond to a public vote.  Months of hostile campaigning are likely ahead, and what will that do to fan interest in a team that hasn’t even played its first game yet?  ”It complicates it at a minimum,” says Rob Stutzman, a savvy political strategist who’s among those pushing the petition drive in Anaheim.  ”There may be a solution they have for it, but right now we’re very pleased that it appears that it creates a real complication for the deal in Anaheim.”

From the State Capitol, State Senate President Darrell Steinberg may have looked like a Grandstanding Politician.  But his legislation raises anti-trust, unfair competition, issues the NBA can’t ignore.  Anaheim is a bigger, more financially powerful city than Sacramento.  ”You know, this community has a long history with the Kings and mostly a very positive history.  I think we made a good case,” Steinberg told FOX40 minutes after meeting with Clay Bennett, the head man on the NBA’s relocation committee.

The Maloof brothers thought they’d make big money in a bigger TV market by going to Southern California.  But the numbers are falling apart, and now the NBA is considering a revenue sharing plan that would boost the bottom line without leaving town.  Matt Mahood, with the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, was energized as he left his own meting with Bennett, “Sacramento put a stake in the ground today, saying the Sacramento Kings need to stay here.”

But why fight so hard for a team that doesn’t want to be in Sacramento?  Well, because bay area billionaire Larry Ellison wants to buy a team, maybe the New Orleans Hornets, and move them to San Jose.  If that happens, and local leaders  know this, Sacramento will lose the NBA forever.  ”We wanted our commitment and our passion to be palatable.  And, I can tell you the NBA delegation has seen the best of Sacramento,” Mayor Johnson told reporters.

And finally, if money troubles get the best of the Maloofs, there’s a billionaire ready to pick up the pieces.  Ron Berkle wants to own an NBA team and he wants to own it in Sacramento.  In the eyes of the NBA, that’s gotta be another tipping point.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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