City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

March 1, 2011
Mayor: Kings more likely to go than stay, but city will still fight

When it comes to the Sacramento Kings' cloudy future, Mayor Kevin Johnson is talking like a guy who has turned much of his attention to Plan B.

Asked at a morning press conference how confident he was that the Kings would not strike a deal to move to Southern California, the mayor responded, "The likelihood of them leaving is probably greater than them staying, but it's not a done deal."

Meanwhile, Johnson said he has begun speaking with elected, business and labor officials around the region to see what can be done to keep the Kings in town. If that campaign is not successful, the push for a new arena will continue, he said.

"We're all just talking about what we can do to keep our Kings and if for some strange reason they're not in Sacramento, what can we do to position ourselves as a city to make sure we do have an NBA team going forward," he said.

The mayor added, "if (the Kings are) not here, we're going to build a new sports and entertainment complex and put somebody else in that facility."

Johnson said he is scheduled to speak with NBA Commissioner David Stern on Wednesday.

"We're going to talk about the state of Sacramento and where we are," Johnson said. "We're going to talk about how strong I believe this market is and how great of a basketball town it is."

And Johnson said his office is working on finalizing a meeting with the Maloof family, who own the Kings, either Wednesday or Thursday. The mayor said he wants to have "a very candid conversation."

Johnson spoke briefly with the Maloofs at halftime of Monday's Kings game, but said the issue of the team's future did not come up.

The game was "a reminder of the energy and excitement of Arco Arena and I think they were very pleased with that," Johnson said.

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at


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