Kansas City Rumors
As for that chatter about renovating Power Balance Pavilion? The suggestion that George Maloof advanced in conversations with reporters last spring? Let’s just say it’s been a very quiet summer. Members of one prominent group advocating a Power Balance makeover are still trying to arrange a formal meeting. “We’re ready to help in any way we can in advising the ownership group relative to the arena issue, whether it’s a renovation or a new project that makes sense,” said Greg Van Dusen, who was an executive with the team when the Kings relocated from Kansas City in 1985 and currently serves as spokesman for a group that includes an architect and engineer involved with the construction of Arco Arena I and II. “We’re passionate about the Kings. We brought them here. We’ve been working on this pro bono for 3 1/2 years. That’s not a complaint; it was our decision. We just love the Kings and want the team to stay in Sacramento.”
Two people involved in the process said the same thing independent of one another last week: Seattle is going forward with its arena plan whether or not the Kings become available next month. The idea is for the NBA to have no choice the next time a team is sold or is interested in moving; with a new building, Seattle folk believe their city will vault to the top of the relocation list, ahead of towns like Kansas City that already have NBA-ready arenas built. (Kansas City’s Sprint Center was built by the arena-building arm of AEG, the mega- corporation run by billionaire Phillip Anschutz, who owns Staples Center and a share of the Lakers.) In this vein, Seattle views its opponent as Anaheim, not Sacramento.
Excerpts from The Salt Lake Tribune’s interview with NBA Commissioner David Stern on Monday at the league office in New York. Expansion into markets such as Seattle, Kansas City or Las Vegas: I don’t see it, honestly. There are franchises that might turn out to be candidates for moving through relocation. I won’t rule it out because the owners always consider it. But we don’t consider that we need to have an even number [of teams]. We had 23. But, really, economically given our prospects — which are very bright — for a new television contract, significant digital revenues and expanded international operations, what we end up doing is we take in cash but we give away a lot of our revenue stream. And so that would be looked at very, very intensely and I’m not sure there’s a majority of owners that would want to go for expansion in the near future.
Sacramento city leaders have long said the private investment would be around $130 million towards the $400 million for the total project. Sources said by using Kansas City’s paradigm, if A.E.G. contributes $50 million, that will leave $80 million for the Maloofs and the NBA to put towards the private investment portion for funding the arena. “We don’t know for sure what A.E.G. will be doing,” said Jeremiah Jackson of Think Big, the group charged with getting the project done. “It was $53 million in Kansas City, but the deal terms haven’t been finalized. However, that’s certainly the model that we’re trying to emulate.”
This means that the price tag of paying in advance to be the arena’s anchor tenant would cost the NBA and Maloofs less than $3 million a year. Where does the $80 million figure come from? According to CK’s source, the city is looking for approximately $130 million in “private financing.” AEG, the stadium operator involved for much of this process, supplied Kansas City with $53 million upfront to build the Sprint Center. CK’s source confirmed that a similar number is being floated for the rights to run a new downtown arena, leaving roughly $80 million for the Kings and NBA.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson says the ongoing NBA lockout will not deter the city from moving forward with a financing plan for a new Kings arena. In a statement Thursday night, he said, “While like many others we hope that the NBA and the players are able to come to an agreement, our focus has always been that this facility is more than just a professional basketball arena but rather, similar to what has taken place in Kansas City, an entertainment and sports complex that will generate economic activity and create jobs.”