Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson said during his regular Tuesday press conference that he is “very close” to announcing the big-money investors who will help the city make a bid to keep the Kings.
However, an announcement is likely not coming prior to this weekend’s All-Star Game festivities in Houston.
Johnson said he will attend the All-Star weekend to meet with various NBA officials and owners and keep them updated on the city’s efforts to assemble a bid to rival that of a Seattle group led by Chris Hansen. Hansen’s group last month reached an agreement with the current owners of the Kings, the Maloof family, to buy the team. Last week it was revealed that the Hansen group, through the Maloofs, had applied to relocate the team to Seattle for the 2013-14 season.
Johnson’s goal is to assemble an ownership group that he says would make a bid “competitive” to the estimated $525 million of the Hansen group (who agreed to buy 65 percent at $340 million) as well as present a viable arena deal.
He said today the city will present that proposal by March 1.
“I am extremely confident that we are going to put together what we need to, extremely confident that we are going to meet our March 1 deadline,” he said.
The NBA Board of Governors is expected to vote on whether to approve the sale of the team to the Hansen group at its annual spring meeting in mid-April in New York. However, Johnson said a joint committee may want to hear Sacramento’s proposal sooner, which he characterized as “exciting.”
Johnson said the fact that the proposals have not been announced yet does not mean anything other than that “this is just a very complicated transaction.”
Johnson said one of his goals in Houston this weekend will be to reiterate that the city of Sacramento is doing everything it can to keep the team.
“The Seattle people would like you to believe that the deal is done,” he said. “The deal is not done in Seattle and we would like to get that message out there. …That will be our message for Seattle in Houston.”
Johnson said that effort would not be undermined by the fact that he cannot yet name the new ownership group or arena plan.
“You know as well as I know that I cannot publicly say everything we are working on,” he said. “There are a number of sensitive issues. But talking to the folks who are on my target to lobby, they will understand everything that is going and the level to what it is happening.”
Sacramento continues to consider two different locations for an arena — a “railyards” site that was the choice a year ago when the city thought it had a deal with the Maloofs for a new arena; and a downtown site.
Johnson said he wants to have both the arena site and ownership group in place before any announcement.
“We want to have all of our ducks (in a row) and every agreement, every action, every selling point that creates an opportunity for us to show that Sacramento is the most compelling city to remain an NBA team,” he said.
Johnson also announced that the city will embark on campaign to solicit corporate support for a new ownership group/arena in Sacramento. “It’s time to let the NBA know how strong our corporate community is,” he said.