A local group of Sacramento-area investors should be sought to buy the Sacramento Kings and ensure that the team does not leave town, Assemblyman Roger Dickinson said today.
Dickinson said it is obvious that the Maloof family is exploring the possibility of relocating the team to Anaheim, negotiations likely to leave a sour taste in Sacramentans' mouths even if they fail.
"It's very hard to win back public support for an ownership group that has indicated they're no longer interested in being in town," said Dickinson, a Sacramento Democrat who was instrumental in bringing the River Cats baseball team to the area.
Joe Maloof has said in the past that the family has no intention of selling the Kings.
A former collegiate basketball player, Dickinson said he came to the conclusion that a change of Kings ownership was necessary in 2006, when the Maloofs' relationship with local officials soured and voters rejected a sales tax increase to fund a new arena.
Dickinson said he told National Basketball Association consultant John Moag that year that "a change of ownership" would be needed to keep the team in Sacramento and create a more positive environment.
Dickinson's comments about local ownership came during a question-and-answer session with The Bee's Capitol Bureau. He said he was not soliciting investors and was not aware of any such group coming together.
The freshman lawmaker likened the Kings situation to that of the San Francisco Giants in 1992, when a group headed by Safeway chairman Peter McGowan purchased the team to keep it from moving to Florida.
In San Francisco, the local ownership group eventually constructed a new stadium, largely with private funds. In Sacramento, local ownership also could boost prospects for financing a new Kings arena, Dickinson said.
"In all respects, getting a new building would be enhanced by having local ownership that's committed to Sacramento," he said.
To keep the Kings in Sacramento, perhaps the city could sue - but that's not an ideal long-term solution, Dickinson said.
"Assuming you have the same ownership which has demonstrated its interest in not being in your town, if you succeed in keeping them - what have you got?"