Virginia Rumors

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.
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.
Despite persistently optimistic reports out of Virginia Beach, Va., that the town (hamlet? intersection?) is progressing in its plan to put together an arena deal to attract the Sacramento Kings, the NBA office has received no communication on the matter from Kings ownership, a league source told Nor has the league received a relocation application from the Kings, which would be the first step in any move. Everything looks peachy with Virginia Beach’s arena proposal, except for little matter of a $150 million subsidy being sought from the state of Virginia. Along with $195 million earmarked from the city budget, the project is estimated to be 90 percent publicly funded. Good luck with that.
Up until now, rumors and unconfirmed reports swirled around the Capital City about a Kings’ possible move to Virginia Beach; however, now, sources in Virginia, who asked not to be identified, said George Maloof has met with state and city leaders there and plans are being drafted to possibly move the NBA team. At Tuesday night’s Virginia Beach City Council meeting, Mayor Will Sessoms said media giant Comcast-Spectacor and its president, Peter Luukko, are very optimistic. “He is currently working on a long-term lease with a professional sports team that will serve as an anchor tenant to an arena,” Sessoms told the council.
Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms today confirmed he recently met with representatives of a National Basketball Association team about moving that team to his city. Sessoms made the comment during a during a Virginia Beach City Council meeting, city spokesman Marc Davis said. The mayor declined to say which team he spoke with. However, several Virginia Beach news outlets have reported that unnamed sources have told them the team is the Sacramento Kings.
Voters in Virginia Beach, Va., aren’t thrilled about the idea of building an NBA arena in their city, further diminishing the possibility of attracting the Sacramento Kings. A poll released today by the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, WVEC-TV and Christopher Newport University showed voters oppose the proposed arena by a 45-38 margin. When asked if they support public funding for the arena, opposition rises to 58-32. When told about the results, city officials disclosed that their own polling showed 51-43 support for the arena, according to the Virginian-Pilot.
Comcast Spectacor says it would pursue a professional sports franchise and guarantee lease payments if a new arena were built in Virginia Beach, prompting speculation the company is eyeing the Sacramento Kings. In a presentation to the Virginia Beach City Council Tuesday, Comcast Spectacor president Peter Luukko did not mention the Sacramento Kings by name, but he left little doubt the Kings are at least one of the teams he’s talking about. “We know where there’s opportunity potentially,” Luukko said.
With major players like Comcast and Live Nation connected to the Virginia Beach project it has more credibility than most, but sources are adamant that this thing is far from sewn up, even if there is a positive vote today. Today’s meeting could go a long way towards shedding light on where things stand with the Kings and Virginia Beach, however, to think that an announcement is coming on relocation this week might be jumping the gun.
Sources close to this situation continue to say that the Kings are exploring their options, but that Virginia Beach isn’t any further along than other options under consideration. It will be interesting to see how this thing plays out, as Comcast-Spectaor isn’t a joke of an organization and after pocketing several hundred million divesting large portions of their stake in the 76ers, there is real money behind this id.
One source with knowledge of the discussions said the Kings, who are looking to leave Sacramento, have been mentioned as a possible tenant. But George Maloof Jr., whose family owns the Kings, would not comment on that possibility. “We have been approached by several cities over several years about moving the Kings, and we will not comment other than that,” Maloof told Inside Business.
To finance the arena, the Virginia Beach Hotel-Motel Association has indicated it would support a $1 hike in the lodging tax, sources said. In addition, the Atlantic Coast Conference has agreed to place Virginia Beach on its list as a future venue for college ACC conference tournaments. A well-known concert promoter – Live Nation – is associated with the deal for the new arena and the team’s relocation to Virginia Beach, sources say.
A deal between the Maloof family, which owns the Sacramento Kings, and the city of Sacramento for a $391 million entertainment complex fell apart three months ago and it has been reported that the owners are looking for a city for their franchise. Media giant Comcast will guarantee a 25-year lease on a new arena, supposedly for naming rights and for broadcasting the games, sources said. Comcast owns NBC and Global Spectrum, which operates arenas and stadiums across the country including the Ted Constant Convocation Center at Old Dominion University.