|Sacramento Kings Stunned By Arena Deal Collapse|
Monday, 16 April 2012 10:31
NBA’s The Sacramento Kings face an uncertain future after it was announced that a deal for a new arena collapsed on Friday, sparking new fears that the ‘Kings’ could leave the Californian city.
Sacramento City Council last month approved a plan to help finance a US$391 million downtown arena, seemingly ending a turbulent spell for the Kings. The non-binding term sheet, which was signed off by the NBA and the Kings before being put to the council for a final vote, would have kept the team in Sacramento for at least another 30 years.
Speaking on Friday, Sacramento Mayor and former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson stated his anger at the conduct of the team’s owners, the Maloof family. The Maloofs have rejected the terms of March’s agreement, with Johnson stating they have outlined concerns that were never previously disclosed. “Is the deal dead? As we know it, absolutely,” Johnson said, according to the Associated Press. He added: “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.”
The Kings have disputed Johnson’s claims stating “we are committed to remaining the Sacramento Kings”. The AP reports that Joe, Gavin and George Maloof took issue with some of the terms of the original deal – particularly environmental and pre-development costs that Johnson claims constitute less than 1% of the project's cost. The team said in a statement: “The negotiations that have occurred surrounding, as (NBA) Commissioner (David) Stern said repeatedly today during his news conference, a 'non-binding framework,' never resulted in a deal that was good for the City or good for the team.”
Stern has hit out at the timing of the Maloofs’ actions, claiming they could have saved “a lot of angst and trouble.” He added: “I am extremely disappointed on behalf of both the Maloofs and the city of Sacramento, but I think that there's nothing further to be done and this is a situation that the Maloofs will have to make judgments on and the city will have to make judgments on, because I think we have done as much as we can do.”
Despite the Kings’ claims of a commitment to Sacramento, the latest development appears to reignite Anaheim’s hopes of luring the franchise in a relocation that appeared increasingly likely before March’s agreement. Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said in a statement: “Like most NBA fans, I've been watching the recent developments with the Kings and, if they do leave Sacramento, they should know that we would welcome them here. Anaheim is NBA-ready. We have great fans and a first-class facility.”