Kevin Johnson remains “extremely confident” that Sacramento’s plan to keep the Kings will come together. And if the NBA requests that California’s capital present its case sooner rather than later, the mayor has no qualms about that either.
Johnson told reporters that negotiations with major equity investors in the city’s effort to bid on the Kings are still ongoing. But he assured that Sacramento will have its proposal in place before or by the NBA’s relocation deadline on March 1st. Johnson also stated that the city would be prepared to present its offer to the league prior to the annual Board of Governors meeting in New York
“We’re going to be ready sooner than mid-April if that’s what it takes,” the mayor told reporters in his weekly press conference from city hall today. “And I think that just goes to the confidence that we have with the people that we’re working with as it relates to A) the equity side of the equation, meaning the team valuation, as well as (B) the downtown arena component.”
Part of those negotiations include discussions on the site of a new potential home for the Kings. Johnson once again reaffirmed that both the railyard and downtown plaza are in play.
The downtown railyard has already been vetted as a possible location for a new entertainment and sports complex. The site was part of the arena deal agreed to last year between the city, NBA and entertainment promoter AEG. And while the downtown plaza has just recently surfaced as a player in the conversation, Johnson assured that the city has done its homework on the shopping center.
“If you remember when I first got elected, it might’ve been in my first year, I started going down to L.A. and talking to the Westfield folks about selling the mall,” Johnson said. “Because I knew even back then that that mall was a key to unlocking some very powerful potential in Sacramento.”
JMA Ventures, a real estate development company based out of San Francisco, purchased the downtown plaza from Westfield Shopping Malls in August of last year. The 42-year-old shopping center, which underwent a $157 million renovation in 1993, sold for just $22 million.
The mayor also revealed a new component to Sacramento’s plan. Starting now, the city will be rallying corporate support in its effort to demonstrate its viability as an NBA market. Two years ago, the mayor made a similar drive, raising up to $10 million in new corporate pledges for the Kings’ 2010-11 season.
“It had a huge impact on the owners, the NBA and said a lot about the viability of our market,” Johnson said. “And everybody in the corporate community – both large, medium and small – have said how can we help out? And now they’re gonna get an opportunity to make a statement along with our local owners of how committed they are, so we’re launching that effort to prove our corporate support of a new team, certainly new owners, new arena in downtown.”
Johnson hasn’t attached a specific dollar figure to this new campaign, but has begun preliminary conversations with local businesses around the greater Sacramento region about their participation.
The mayor is also headed to Houston this week for the NBA’s annual All-Star Weekend festivities. Aside from lobbying support from league officials and owners for Sacramento, Johnson has another mission he’d like to accomplish as well.
“The Seattle people would like you to believe that the deal is done,” Johnson said. “And the deal is not done in Seattle. And we’re gonna make sure we get that message out loud and clear.”
Listen to the mayor’s entire press conference in the audio file below
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