Friday, April 22, 2011

Kings to stay in Sacramento?

It looks like the Sacramento Kings won't become the Anaheim Royals after all -- at least not next season.

Despite speculation that the Kings had all but packed their bags for Southern California, the NBA now thinks the team will remain in Sacramento next season, according to a Los Angeles Times report Friday.

However, the Kings' long-term future in Sacramento remains uncertain beyond 2011-12, the Times reported, citing league executives.

Meanwhile, Kings co-owner Joe Maloof says his family is still deciding whether to move the franchise to Anaheim or stay in California's capital city.

Maloof told The Associated Press on Friday that no decision has been made and he's "as anxious as anybody" to find out if Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson can deliver on his promise for more sponsorship support and finally finance a plan for a new arena.

Johnson was wrapping up two days of meetings with NBA relocation committee chairman and Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett and other league officials in Sacramento.

"We await the results of the fact-finding visit that the NBA made to Sacramento the past two days," the Kings said Friday night in a statement. "We have not made a decision with regards to relocation filing, and will not make that decision until we have more information from the NBA."

At the NBA Board of Governors meetings last week in New York, the NBA granted the Kings an extension until May 2 to file paperwork requesting a relocation to Anaheim.

Johnson attended the April 14-15 meetings as well to make a desperate pitch to keep the Kings in Sacramento, and he persuaded the league to dispatch a fact-finding team to Sacramento. Johnson believes he made another splash when they arrived. He presented $9.2 million -- up from the $7 million he initially cited last week -- in commitments for new advertising, ticket purchases and other financial support from regional businesses and other backers to prevent the team from moving to Anaheim.

Johnson and other political and business leaders emerged from meetings with NBA officials Thursday optimistic about their efforts to keep the Kings in town.

"If you go back a week ago from today, we thought it was virtually over," Johnson, a former NBA All-Star, said Thursday. "And not only did we prevent the team from leaving, we got a chance to show them who we are. And when we said $7 million, and the commissioner said, 'Well, prove it,' he sent a team out and we over-delivered. I mean, this is Sacramento. This is what makes us great."

The Kings likely won't make a long-term commitment to staying in Sacramento without a new arena.

After years of failed efforts to replace outdated Power Balance Pavilion, formerly called Arco Arena, Sacramento officials are using the extra time before the Maloof's relocation application deadline to show the NBA that they can finally agree on a plan to finance a new facility.

A new arena feasibility plan -- the major sticking point in past efforts -- won't be completed until a few weeks after the relocation deadline. A majority approval by owners would be needed to approve the move, and political leaders in Sacramento believe there's still time to convince the NBA the Kings shouldn't leave.

"I don't think they have made up their minds," city councilman Rob Fong said. Via ESPN