WATCH: No whales announced yet as Kevin Johnson updates Sacramento’s bid to keep Kings

Update: 1:20 PM

No whale sightings at Tuesday’s press conference at Sacramento City Hall.  Instead, mayor Kevin Johnson provided a brief update on the city’s effort to keep the Kings.  Below are some of the highlights.

  • The mayor had originally intended to announce the major equity investors sometime last week.  Though there’s been a delay, Johnson claims that it’s not a cause for concern.  “You have a commitment by the city that that we want to be smart and do our due diligence,” Johnson said.  “The whales and equity investors – they’re doing their due diligence.  They have a deal they have to put together.  They have to look at the economics of an arena.  They have to look at the economics of buying a team.  All those things just take time and I will tell you that everybody’s working around the clock.”  He now hopes to announce them some time this week or next.
  • Johnson says there are experts exploring the minority owners’ right of first refusal.  But at this point, the mayor says the city remains firmly focused on its effort to present a competitive counteroffer to the NBA.  “From our vantage point, I can’t tell you whether somebody has the right of first refusal or not,” Johnson said. “But I will tell you that the trustee in this (bankruptcy) case believes they have a very good case for right of first refusal. That’ll have to play out how ever that has to play out. It’s not impacting on what we’re doing here as a city. We’re trying to put a competitive offer forward that puts us in the game and gives us an opportunity to keep our team here in Sacramento.”
  • With that said, is the mayor confident the NBA will give Sacramento a fair shake when they present their offer?  “I think the commissioner’s made a statement from day one that we were going to get a chance in Sacramento to present our case at the Board of Governors’ meeting in April,” said Johnson. “I don’t think that’s been a surprise.  I think everybody knew that we’d get an opportunity to do that.  We went there two years ago and we laid out a compelling case and we’ll get a chance to do it again.  And as I said earlier, our objective is to submit a fair and competitive offer as soon as possible and be in a position to explain to the NBA why Sacramento should remain an NBA city come mid-April.”
  • Johnson continued to reiterate the the city is working on a timeline that coincides with the NBA’s relocation deadline.  However, he would ideally like to have Sacramento’s proposal set in stone and submitted to the league a few weeks in advance of that March 1st date.  “What I would ideally like to have is something submitted this week, next week, the following week,” said Johnson.  “Because what that will allow is two weeks time for the NBA, the Maloofs and everybody to really look at what our offer is.  I think that would be important to March 1st.  Again worst case, we have that March 1st deadline because ultimately this is something that is going to have to play out in mid-April, so that’s April 18th and 19th.”
  • The mayor acknowledged that railyards and downtown plaza are both being looked at as possible sites for a new downtown arena.  “I think from our standpoint as a city, we’re very familiar with the railyards site,” Johnson said.   “It’s something we studied, we had a deal in place.  In terms of downtown plaza, we’re just trying to get smart on it.  We don’t know what’s being proposed.  In fact, we don’t know if the equity investors are going to choose downtown plaza or the railyards site.  So really, we’re in a position where we’re doing our due diligence and trying to get smart on both of them.  I don’t know a whole lot more than that at this point in time.  We’re just starting to engage.” Sports business consultant Dan Barrett, who worked on Sacramento’s last arena deal, has also been back brought into the fold by city staff.


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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