City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

February 12, 2013
Mayor Johnson says he's 'very close' to unveiling plan to keep Kings

As he prepares to head to Houston this weekend to lobby the NBA's team owners to keep pro basketball in Sacramento, Mayor Kevin Johnson said he is getting "very close" to revealing the deep-pocketed investors he has recruited to make a pitch to buy the franchise.

Those investors - along with a plan for a new downtown arena - would be the foundation of Johnson's argument to the NBA to block a deal the Kings' owners have to sell the franchise to a group that would move the team to Seattle in time for the 2013/14 season.

Johnson said he is working against a March 1 deadline to secure those investors and an arena plan. That date is the deadline for a team to file for relocation, which the Kings did last week.

The mayor is expected to make his pitch to the league's Board of Governors - made up of team owners - in New York in mid-April. However, he raised the possibility today of presenting his case prior to that April meeting to a league subcommittee that examines sale agreements and relocation requests.

Despite the looming deadline, Johnson said he remains confident his plan will come together.

"Seattle people would like you to believe the deal is done (to move the Kings)," he said. "And the deal is not done."

Meanwhile, the mayor said he would recruit local businesses to pledge that they would sign sponsorship deals with new owners in a new arena. He has not set a dollar goal yet, but in 2011 he helped raise $10 million to help convince the NBA to block a Kings move to Anaheim.

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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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