SACRAMENTO, CA - City councilwoman Angelique Ashby said Sacramento will continue working on plans to build a new sports arena, even if the Sacramento Kings leave the city.
She said Sunday a new arena "serves this community on multiple levels" beyond being a place to play basketball.
Earlier: NBA's Stern confirms Kings owners
met with Anaheim about possible move
"Sacramento loves the NBA and would like to keep the Kings. If they go, we wish them well, thank them for all the great years and will pursue other opportunities for people in this region," said Ashby.
Ashby's statement comes a day after NBA Commissioner David Stern confirmed team management is in discussions with officials in Anaheim about moving the Kings there.
"It means this is real, the possibility of the Kings leaving isn't just theoretical, that it's being discussed," said Sacramento Bee columnist Marcos Breton. "That doesn't mean it's going to happen. But if a good deal opens for the Kings' owners, they'd take it and leave."
March 1 is the deadline for the Kings' owners to file an application with the NBA to relocate the team.
The possibility of the Kings leaving Sacramento has been driving politicians, developers, and fans to push for a new arena for more than a decade.
Mayor Kevin Johnson has been trying to get a new sports and entertainment complex built since his first months in office. He said keeping the Kings is important for the city, and that an arena will help serve as a focus for a redeveloped downtown.
Developer Dave Taylor and the ICON group have been given 90 days to look at the feasibility of building a new arena.
Ashby said a new arena is a good idea even if its star tenant has left town.
"The arena doesn't mean all about the Kings. It's about Sacramento and what to do for people who live here," Ashby said.
What is clearer now than ever before, Breton said, is how much the city needs a new arena.
"Up to this point, it's all been about the Kings' owners and people venting frustration at the Kings' owners. Hopefully, this will create a situation where people realize we need an arena in Sacramento. The Kings need an arena. Sacramento needs an arena," Breton said.