Sacramento mayor exploring arena feasibility

3:14 PM, May 1, 2012   |    comments
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Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson

SACRAMENTO, CA - The next step in building a new arena in Sacramento is clear to the mayor's office: See who's still on board.

Later this week, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson will meet with arena operator AEG and try to convince its principals to stay at the table.

The city is looking at modeling a plan on what Kansas City did when it built the Sprint Center without a professional sports team.

AEG financed a portion of that arena.

Will it do the same in Sacramento, without the Sacramento Kings?

"I can only do so much convincing," Johnson said. "The economics of a deal have to make sense. They're not going to do me a favor, they're not going to do Sacramento a favor. They're ultimately going to make a decision based on those numbers and what those revenue projections will bear."

Another hurdle is the existing loan Sacramento has with the Maloofs, owners of the Kings. If Sacramento builds an arena, without the Kings playing there, the Maloofs can walk away from the $67 million they owe the city.

"There is no way on God's green earth that we would allow them to walk from their commitment, period," Johnson said. "If there was a way to build an entertainment and sports complex it would have to be after everyone understands that (the Maloofs) have to satisfy their obligation."

Johnson also said if a new arena is built, it will not be ready by the 2015 NBA season. He said maybe 2016.

Despite the obstacles, the mayor remains optimistic.

"When doors close and things don't happen, something better is on the horizon. We just don't know what it is yet. I actually believe that we're going to get there," Johnson said.

As for luring other sports to Sacramento, Johnson said, "I'm talking to everybody. I've talked to everybody at every level."

by Nick Monacelli

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