ORLANDO - This was going to be a crazy, active weekend anyway - All-Star Weekend always is - but David Stern apparently will have less time than usual to schmooze with his stars, cultivate his important visitors from China, Europe, and other global markets, along with his domestic partners, because of his plans to meet with Mayor Kevin Johnson, Joe and Gavin Maloof and try to pin down the specifics of a potential arena deal. Jason Jones and Ryan Lillis are traveling here Thursday, and I arrived a few hours ago after a lengthy delay and diversion to Tampa because of thunderstorms.
I have been speaking with officials from the city and county of Orlando, along with Magic team president Alex Martins, and will be writing about the Amway Center (opened in October, 2010) and its financial impact on the area. Folks here say the All-Star Weekend will contribute $100 million to the local economy, with an estimated 50,000 visitors filling hotels, attending events, renting cars, and dining at restaurants. A major traffic snafu is expected Sunday when some folks head back to Orlando after the Daytona 500, about an hour's drive from here.
As for anything new on the arena talks? I am hearing the same consistent theme: the threat to Sacramento comes from Anaheim, and not Seattle, which (a) still needs someone willing to sell a team (which the Maloofs are not) and (b) is years away from opening doors on a new building.
Much more to come in the coming days.