City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

April 12, 2011
Mayor and arena expert will tout Sacramento to NBA

Thumbnail image for 20110315_ha_johnson3086.JPGAs he tries to convince the NBA this week that Sacramento is a city worthy of a pro basketball franchise, Mayor Kevin Johnson will be joined by the guy at the forefront of the latest effort to build a new arena in town.

Tim Romani, president and CEO of the ICON Venue Group, will accompany the mayor during his presentation to the NBA Board of Governors in New York on Thursday. ICON is working with Sacramento developer David Taylor on a City Hall-sponsored arena study due out next month.

"I want the NBA to know that even though we've had failed attempts in the past (at building a new arena), I think it's a new era in Sacramento," the mayor told reporters this morning. "Whether the Kings are here or not, our commitment is to go forward with a new facility in the next four years."

The Maloofs, who own the Kings, will also address the NBA's owners this week. They have until Monday to ask for permission to relocate to Anaheim.

Johnson said his message to the league would be to prove that Sacramento is a viable NBA city.

"We're not there to block anything from happening," he said. "We're just there to build our case and talk about the success that we've had in Sacramento."

Beyond building a new arena, the mayor and others have said putting together an ownership group for a new NBA franchise would be an imperative step toward luring the league back to town, should the Kings bolt.

Johnson said there are "many people in Sacramento that would love to be part of an ownership group." However, it appears talks on that front have not yet been serious.

"It is imperative that we find an ownership group very quickly," the mayor 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 rlillis@sacbee.com

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