Arena Chat: Johnson, Steinberg and Lehane Q&As with USA Today

As the 100-day study period nears its end, Think Big Sacramento is ramping up publicity for Thursday’s unveiling of arena financing options.  Yesterday, Mayor Kevin Johnson wrote a guest piece for’s Morning Tip with David Aldridge.  And in today’s USA Today, the mayor, Senator Daryl Steinberg and Think Big Executive Director Chris Lehane answered questions posed by the paper’s NBA writer,  J. Michael Falgoust.

Here are a few excerpts, along with links to each subject’s Q&A.

Johnson on the Maloofs involvement

Three or four years ago, the NBA stepped in and the Maloofs were on the periphery. Everyone thought it was OK for them to be in the back. When we first started looking at a new entertainment sports complex, they were on the different side of the aisle. What they told me during those discussions was that if they don’t go to Anaheim, they’re going to be very helpful in terms of giving us the financials, the projections based on revenue, suites, etc. The moment they decided not to file for relocation on May 2, they’ve been extremely cooperative and supportive.

Lehane on where efforts proceed after Thursday

I’d say you’re moving from halftime to the third quarter. Assuming the city is comfortable with the approach that’s been suggested, the next step is you engage the NBA and by extension the Kings. People will go back and forth based on the plan that’s been presented. Assuming there’s a meeting of the minds …then the city needs to go out and identify the developer, the operator of the facility. That all happens concurrent with negotiations. Ultimately you don’t have it officially done until the NBA and the Kings have agreed to the deal. We’re on a March timeline. …I feel pretty good where we are right now.

Steinberg on where the money can come from

Everyone saw we could really lose the team and, number two, we’re taking a fundamentally different approach this time. … Given the economy and the unemployment rate and frankly other more important priorities for the public dollar, it’s just not viable (to ask for a broad-based tax). We’re just looking at trying to generate the money through revenue gained from people who will use the facility. That’s the difference. … It’s the right way to go. If you’re benefitting from the new asset, the new facility, we need you to be part of helping to pay for it.


Jonathan Santiago
Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.

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