So The Arena Deal Is Dead… Now What?

Remember that complicated land swap that would have put the State Fair in the old Arco Arena, some other stuff at Cal Expo and the brand spanking new arena into a redeveloped rail yard that rivaled some serious Monopoly wheeling and dealing?

Well, the Kings apparently couldn’t pass Go and the city of Sacramento didn’t land on Free Parking so the deal is dead. Instead, the Kings are stuck without a brand new arena deal and will start exploring their options if they’re smart. That doesn’t mean the city of Sacramento is losing its team by any means. People in Anaheim, Seattle and Kansas City will assuredly tell you the Kings are moving to their respective city and that the Kings have no chance of remaining in Sacramento.

Well, those people are idiots.

It doesn’t mean they won’t be correct about those sentiments. It just means their blind luck guessing is going to possibly come to fruition through no intuition of their own.

It doesn’t look good, especially with the NBA pulling out its support for the new arena project after four years of probably checking in on the people doing the hard work:

“On the heels of the disappointing – but not surprising – action (or inaction) of the state and Cal Expo board, it is fair to say that the NBA has ceased its activities on the Sacramento arena front,” league representative John Moag said in an e-mail to The Bee. “However, we will continue to monitor and respond to the activities and options of others that might reasonably ensure the competitiveness and viability of the Kings’ franchise.”

Before you start packing up your season ticket money for the big move, keep a few things in mind. Until the Kings file relocation papers (and there really isn’t any reason to believe they will as of right now), this city still has a chance to put together some type of arena plan. Even with other cities chomping at the bit, there is no perfect situation to move to out there. Sacramento Bee sports editor, Bill Bradley, gave some illumination to the other cities and their issues in moving the Kings there:

• San Jose is out of the question because new Warriors owners Joseph Lacob and Peter Guber paid too many millions to let another team move into their TV territory.

• Anaheim is San Jose squared. Why would the Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Clippers agree to crowd the market?

• Seattle is dragging its feet on getting a new arena, and that’s the reason the Sonics left.

• Las Vegas is still talking about an arena. It hurt its chances when it flubbed the 2007 All-Star Game. Besides, third-shift workers are not good season-ticket holders.

• Kansas City? The Kings have been there, done that. And K.C. is the 31st-ranked media market, 11 spots behind Sacramento, so it would be a stretch to think it could sustain three pro teams.

So what now if you’re a Kings fan?

Renovating the building about to be formerly known as Arco Arena is out of the question. The building has been sapped out of its energy and usefulness in the same way I get when I’m forced to enter a Sephora shop. There is no life left in the building. It’s intimate and it’s unique in the fact that NOBODY in the league would want it as their home. That’s not to say you can’t have a good time at a Kings game there. When it’s packed and the crowd has energy, it’s still one of the better experiences you can have on any given night. But the arena is so outdated that the Kings won’t be able to thrive as a franchise without a new place.

You can build around the area Arco currently resides but that still can provide limitations in getting fans out and into the action on game nights when the transportation options to games are so impacted and unreliable.

The solution is still to try to get a place into downtown Sacramento. That has to mean redeveloping the rail yards and that’s going to cost a lot of money the city and economy can’t afford to give. The Maloofs were willing to contribute a boatload of money when the land swap proposal was being bandied about because they were getting out of a big debt owed to the area AND getting a lot of future profit from parking around the new building. Will they get afforded the same financial opportunity with the new proposals? That could be the key to getting them to support a new arena deal as much as they did with the prior idea.

The good thing with this arena situation is that even though the NBA has pulled out its efforts, the proposals are still going to come in and it will be relatively soon. The local developers involved are bringing in something called VisionMaker Worldwide to bring more money and equity to get funding for the next proposal possible.

“We don’t have it all figured out, but we have enough critical elements that it’s very promising,” Taylor said.

The city and Convergence have an exclusive negotiating agreement through the end of October on the original proposal. Mayor Johnson sought to end that exclusive arrangement early, saying he felt it was no longer valid because the initially proposed plan has failed.

The council, however, voted to wait until its Oct. 26 meeting to hear what Kamilos has to report and decide then whether and how to move forward on any arena plans.

So if these developers with the exclusive deal can’t get anything of substance in the next month (even though they have “ideas”), we’re all back to the drawing board. And when we’re all back to the drawing board, some new developer can come in with their big ideas and try to get something done. While NBA-less cities will try to taunt you with our lack of an arena deal in place, opening up the floor to new developers might be the way to go to get this thing back in motion.

And who knows? Maybe a great new company like Prestige WorldWide will come in and sweep the city off its feet…

(NSFW – language)


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