City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

May 4, 2011
Webber will play a role in Sacramento's arena fight

We're going to hear a lot of people weigh in over the next few months on how to finance a new arena for the Kings. But one voice heard this week is having a particularly strong impact with fans.

Former Kings great Chris Webber is saying he has private investors lined up to help fund the construction of an arena. Speaking Monday on TNT, Webber said the city must prove it deserves the team and that there's a lot of work to be done.

"Within this year, we're going to make some special things happen," Webber said.

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Mayor Kevin Johnson said he has spoken to Webber "three to four times" over the last couple of weeks.

"He's going to play some role," the mayor said. "He wants to be involved and we're figuring out where the best place for him to be involved is."

Also on TNT, Charles Barkley, who is Webber's co-host on the station's NBA coverage, weighed in that the league "can't keep screwing the fans" by moving franchises. Oddly enough, Barkley - who isn't exactly beloved by Kings fans - has repeatedly come to the defense of Sacramento in recent weeks.

As for Barkley's previous promise that he'd chip in with his checkbook to help Sacramento's effort, Johnson joked, "that check would bounce so fast."

"I can't tell you how many checks I had to come behind for Charles in the years we played together - not to mention a few other things," a smiling mayor said of his former teammate with the Phoenix Suns.

Speaking of television, Larry Eldridge, vice president and general manager of Comcast SportsNet California, told me on Monday that his station is still interested in working out a new deal with the Kings that could be worth more than the reported $11 million a year it brings the team now.

"We'll continue to talk to them about new business options," Eldridge said.

TV contracts are vital revenue streams for NBA franchises. In fact, the NBA's skepticism about the TV deal the Kings would have had in Anaheim played a role in the league recommending the team stay here.

Photo: Chris Webber sits with Kings co-owners Gavin and Joe Maloof the night he had his jersey retired, Feb. 6, 2009. Bee staff photo by Hector Amezcua

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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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