City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

April 24, 2012
Mayor and Maloofs still talking, but time running out on reviving Sacramento arena deal

Mayor Kevin Johnson and Kings co-owner George Maloof spoke again this morning and have decided to meet in person within the next few days in what will likely be a make-or-break session.

The mayor told reporters this morning that the next sit down will probably determine whether the city's collapsed arena deal is back on, or if "we don't have the makings of a deal." Asked how confident he was that a deal would be resurrected between the city and its NBA team, Johnson said he was "hopeful rather than confident."

A Maloof spokesman told The Bee's Tony Bizjak that the meeting would take place in Sacramento on Thursday morning. But aides to the mayor said they had not confirmed their schedule.

Maloof told The Bee's Dale Kasler that he'll probably be joined at the meeting by his brother Gavin, plus minority partner John Kehriotis and the team's senior vice president for business operations, John Rinehart.

"We're going to do the best we can, try to get something done," Maloof said.

At this point, the major dividing line between the city and the Maloofs are the revenue projections associated with the plan to finance a $391 million arena in the downtown railyard. An economist hired by the Maloofs has argued the projections were too ambitious and that, as a result, the deal would have placed a severe financial burden on the Kings franchise.

Those revenue projections were put together by AEG, the company that agreed to operate the arena.

While the economist said the city had also overblown projected attendance figures, Johnson and City Manager John Shirey said attendance figures that were used as the basis for the city's plan to backfill the general fund budget were conservative.

The mayor said that if the Maloofs "don't believe the numbers," a deal on the arena is unlikely.

The mayor said the city still believes it had an agreement on the arena following a tense weekend of negotiations in February in Orlando, Fla. The deal later collapsed during the NBA's owners meetings in New York when the Maloofs pulled out.

Following a week of bitter comments exchanged in the media, Johnson flew to Las Vegas on Friday to meet with George Maloof. He expects the sides won't continue talking if a deal isn't revived soon.

"Sitting down doesn't do anybody any harm," he said, adding the process "is not going to drag out."

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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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