Former aide to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson weighs in on arena stalemate
Now that Virginia Beach is no longer a threat to lure the Kings, what happens next for the city of Sacramento? No one is quite sure. Not even R.E. Graswich, who spent the last three years working in the mayor’s office and the now-defunct Think Big Sacramento arena task force. Graswich was on the KFBK Afternoon News yesterday and was asked where California’s capital city might go from here.
Q: You’ve been part of the mayor’s inner circle for quite some time. It seems like Kevin Johnson has just done everything he can do to maintain the team, but now some feel like he’s given up. Are we at the end of the road?
A: Well you hate to say give up and Kevin Johnson in the same sentence. And even though I don’t work for him anymore, I still hate to say that, so I won’t say that. I don’t believe that he will give up. Unfortunately, it’s out of his hands. You’ve got a basketball team, which is a business and that business has really the ability to control its own destiny. So no matter what the mayor does, no matter what the city does, no matter what the governor or anybody else does, the decisions are going to be made by the Maloof family.
And I think right now, they’re stuck because they need to go to a place that gives them a free arena. They need the keys to the car and nobody is going to give them the keys to the car. That’s the kind of deal that was done back 10, 15 years ago in this country – not today. So I think they’re stuck. And I don’t know – if I could peer into their heads, which is kind of a scary thought, I think you would see some real frustration, you would see some anxiety. They really have nowhere to turn.
Frankly, the Sacramento deal looks better and better every day for them, even though they would have to pay $73 million. But that money, remember, was going to be fronted them by the NBA, supported by the NBA, their fellow owners and it would eliminate the need to have to pay off Sacramento for that loan that they’re still paying on, which dates back to 1997.