Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson
The mayor displays petition to keep the Sacramento Kings in town.
SACRAMENTO, CA - Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said he couldn't confirm a Los Angeles Times report the NBA was leaning toward keeping the Kings in Sacramento - at least for the time being.
"I have not heard that from David Stern's mouth. I have not heard that from Clay Bennett or anybody that was here yesterday, so, um, it would be premature for me to comment. It would be great if that was the outcome ... I haven't heard anything close to that," Johnson said.
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The mayor spoke Friday after an intense week and a half of lobbying to keep the team in town. Still, Johnson said, "I feel a lot more confident about our ability to keeping them here."
Johnson said he was humbled at how the Sacramento region "really stepped up" to show it was serious during the fact-finding visit by NBA league officials Thursday and Friday.
The mayor, regional and business leaders had several meetings with Oklahoma City Thunder owner Bennett and NBA attorney Harvey Benjamin. Johnson said the league representatives wanted to know two things: What is the corporate participation and what is the plan for building a new arena in Sacramento.
As for the business community's involvement, Johnson said they went into what he called the corporate meeting with what had been a commitment of $7 million pledged from businesses to a promise of $9.2 million.
When Bennett asked the corporate sponsors face to face to about their commitment, "they didn't flinch," Johnson said.
The mayor held up 2,500 petitions from citizens urging the team stay. He noted the display of "purple" for the Kings in the form of signs, lights, promotions and fans wearing the color.
"Sacramento is a viable market and we want to keep our team here and we're trying to say this to the Maloofs and everybody who listens that this is really important," Johnson said.
There were two meetings including regional officials. Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg hosted one of those gatherings.
Bennett and Benjamin also spent time with the Taylor/ICON Group working on an arena feasibility study. The two toured Power Balance Pavilion, the Kings home since 1987.
NBA representatives were to also go to Anaheim, where the owners of the Kings, the Maloof family, have been in talks to relocate. The league has given the Maloofs to May 2 to file an application to move.
The visiting NBA representatives are to report their findings to the league relocation committee next week.
The Sacramento Kings organization issued the following statement Friday after the meetings and Johnson spoke:
"We await the results of the fact-finding visit that the NBA made to Sacramento the past two days. We have not made a decision with regards to relocation filing, and will not make that decision until we have more information from the NBA."
Joe Maloof said Friday that his family is still deciding whether to move the franchise to Anaheim or stay in California's capital city.
Maloof told The Associated Press no decision has been made and he's "as anxious as anybody" to find out if the mayor can deliver on his promises for more sponsorship support and finally finance a plan for a new arena.
"There's been no decision made," Maloof said. "As far as we're concerned, we're still looking at our options."
News10/KXTV and The Associated Press