Mayor Kevin Johnson expects negotiations on the funding plan for a new downtown Kings arena to intensify, now that 13 firms have expressed interest in leasing the city's parking operations.
The mayor told reporters this morning that the city is "on track and in striking distance" of developing a financing plan for the $387 million arena. City officials are hoping to raise as much as $200 million for the project from the leasing of downtown parking garages, spaces and enforcement.
With more than a dozen firms expressing interest in those parking assets, the mayor said "it's going to be constant negotiations with (arena operator) AEG, the Kings and the NBA and all the interested parties" as the sides work on a funding plan before a March 1 deadline. If a plan does not materialize before then, the NBA has told the Maloofs - the family that owns the Kings - that they can explore moving the franchise.
"With some of the most credible (parking firms) in the country saying they want to participate, that has to give the NBA an additional comfort level and set of assurances and a high degree of confidence that we will be able to deliver on our part," the mayor said.
NBA officials declined comment.
City officials plan to narrow down the list of interested firms to four or five in advance of next week's City Council meeting. After that, the council will be asked to issue a request for proposals for formal bids on the parking assets.
The mayor said that he thinks the city "may even exceed" the $200 million it hopes to generate out of leasing parking assets.
"We can't be in a better situation than we are right now," the mayor said. "There are no red flags or yellow flags right now. We're exceeding our own expectations."
Asked to comment again on the situation in Seattle, where city officials have been working on an arena plan to lure an NBA team back to the Emerald City, the mayor said, "I don't blame them for trying to build an arena."
"I just don't think it's going to be Sacramento," he said, in reference to which NBA team could move to Seattle. "We have a laser focus on our business at hand, we're controlling our own destiny and that's what we're focusing on."