Now that Virginia Beach is no longer a threat to lure the Kings, what happens next for the city of Sacramento? No one is quite sure. Not even R.E. Graswich, who spent the last three years working in the mayor’s office and the now-defunct Think Big Sacramento arena task force. Graswich was on the KFBK Afternoon News yesterday and was asked where California’s capital city might go from here. Q: You’ve been part of the mayor’s inner circle for quite some time. It seems like Kevin Johnson has just done everything he can do to maintain the team, but now some feel like he’s given up. Are we at the end of the road? A: Well you hate to say give up and Kevin Johnson in the same sentence. And even though I don’t work for him anymore, I still hate to say that, so I won’t say that. I don’t believe that he will give up. Unfortunately, it’s out of his hands. You’ve got a basketball team, which is a business and that business has really the ability to control its own destiny. So no matter what the mayor does, no matter what the city does, no matter what the governor or anybody else does, the decisions are going to be made by the Maloof family.
Virginia Beach, Va., today gave up its pursuit of the Sacramento Kings, acknowledging that a deal for a new arena couldn’t be reached. “This just ain’t gonna work at this point in time,” the city’s mayor, Will Sessoms, told The Bee.
Sessoms had imposed a Monday deadline for reaching a deal so he could then go to the Virginia legislature for a $150 million subsidy. The city and arena developer Comcast-Spectacor issued a joint statement saying they haven’t “reached a level of progress that will allow the city to go before the General Assembly to request the necessary funding.” “We can’t move forward because Comcast has not reached a deal,” Sessoms told The Bee.
After years of talks, hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on consulting reports, and most recently an NBA team looking to re-locate, time seems to be running out on plans to build a new arena in Virginia Beach with the Sacramento Kings as the building’s main tenant. Today, Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms and Peter Lukko, the president of Comcast Spectacor, will release a joint statement regarding their ongoing negotiations to get the arena deal done. Unfortunately, those negotiations are at a stand-still.
The drama over the Sacramento Kings’ possible move to Virginia Beach will last at least one more day. Although Virginia Beach’s mayor set a deadline of today for cutting a deal on a new NBA arena, the mayor won’t make any announcement today. Mayor Will Sessoms is likely to make an announcement Tuesday, when the City Council meets, said city spokesman Marc Davis. Sessoms imposed the deadline because he needs a deal in place before he can go to the state legislature for a proposed $150 million subsidy.
Throwing down the gauntlet, Virginia Beach’s mayor has set a Monday deadline to have a lease signed with a professional sports team – widely reported to be the Sacramento Kings – or he’ll pull the plug on the city’s arena efforts for this year. Mayor Will Sessoms, who has been pushing a plan for a $300 million-plus arena in his city, told The Bee he has informed the city’s private partner, arena operator Comcast-Spectacor, he wants an agreement now. “We have a timeline that is right upon us to go to the state to ask for a substantial amount of money,” Sessoms said. “We are not going to go up there and make a fool of ourselves. I need to know something by Monday. “I don’t want to be wasting people’s time or my time if we are not going to bring some conclusion to these negotiations quickly.” Officials in the Virginia city say two state General Assembly representatives are prepared to request $150 million in state funds to help to build the arena when the Assembly reconvenes Wednesday – but only if Comcast reaches a deal with the team.
Despite a setback in funding, Virginia Beach took another step toward building a new arena and presumably luring the Sacramento Kings east. Their council voted 9-2 on Tuesday night to continue negotiations with entertainment giant Comcast-Spectacor. Just four days ago, Governor Bob McDonnell declined to include a $150-million subsidy for the project in Virginia’s state budget. There is belief among the council that McDonnell can still provide state assistance, but needs more time to assess the benefits of the deal. The new proposed 18,500-seat arena is expected to cost roughly $346 million to construct. Virginia Beach is expected to kick in at least $241 million, while Comcast Spectacor has committed to providing $35 million to the project.