This deal looks to be just about dead now when just over a month ago all sides were celebrating what looked like a done deal to build a new arena in downtown Sacramento slated to open in 2015. Now it looks like what I said last week that I should’ve seen all along, an ownership group who does not want to be here and is more interested in finding any problem possible with a deal that this city has bent over backwards to get going. There’s even talk about renovating the current arena, Power Balance Pavilion, an idea that could end up costing more than the arena deal we have now and force the Kings to play elsewhere, like in San Jose or even Oakland, for two seasons away from their fanbase.
What rubbed me the wrong way was the economist who the Maloofs brought in for the Maloofs’ press conference Friday morning our time. Here’s a guy who has probably never spent more than a day in Sacramento, who has no idea how this city works,lives,and operates basically telling us how shitty we are and how shitty this deal is and how we’ll never recover from it should it happen. Even NBA commissioner David Stern called his role “ill grace”. Rule of thumb, don’t ever predict the future like that.
People in this city don’t need to hear how bad things have been the last four years or so from some elitist economist, they’ve lived it. What that man did in front of everyone in that boardroom and to those watching back home was basically have a guy who’s never met you or even seen a picture of you describing all of your faults. This city doesn’t deserve that, they deserve better.
Johnson has stated that this arena deal would work with a different ownership group and I agree with him. I would think an owner like a Ron Berkle or a Larry Ellison (who was the highest bidder for the Warriors when they were for sale in 2010 but in the end were sold to Joe Lacob and his investment group) would be more willing to work with the city,the mayor, the league,and AEG to get this deal done. What needs to happen with the NBA and the Sacramento Kings is the same thing that happened with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Major League Baseball just last year: Relinquishing control of the team from their cash-strapped(allegedly) owner (or owners in this case) and take control of the team until a legitimate one is found. The problem with doing that is the Maloofs actually make payroll while Frank McCourt had to borrow money from a television network to make his.
So what is going to happen next? Will Johnson and the Maloofs renegotiate this and get a new deal done? I highly doubt it, not after the war of words they have had and will probably continue to have. Will they relocate? Not for another year at the very least. The Kings will be playing in Power Balance Pavilion next season, but beyond that is anyone’s guess. I will say this, after what happened last year, when this team looked to be next door neighbors to Mickey Mouse in Anaheim but ended up staying, I won’t count this city,or its leadership out.