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Sacramento arena plan not enough to undermine Seattle NBA efforts


By Josh Kerns

There’s plenty of optimism in Sacramento about keeping the Kings after city leaders unveiled a new financing plan late Saturday for a new $447.7 million downtown arena.

The deal, a partnership between the city and deep pocketed investors, relies extensively on future revenue generated by city-owned downtown parking garages for the city’s $258 million share.

The agreement calls for the private investment team of billionaire Ron Burkle, 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov and Silicon Valley CEO Vivek Ranadive to kick in $190 million.

Sacramento fans thank investors and leaders for a new arena agreement. (AP)

But even though Sacramento officials argue it’s an even better deal than the one approved by the city, NBA and majority owners of the Kings last year – a deal the Maloof family ultimately walked away from at the last minute – 710 ESPN’s Brock Huard says there are too many holes and uncertainties in the deal to undermine Seattle’s efforts.

“This is not anti-Sacramento, this is simply trying to, as best we can, eliminate the emotion from business”, Huard says in today’s post-show wrap up video.

“I hear appears, I hear nonbinding, I hear a lot of things to me that still just reek to me this thing still has a ways to go,” Huard said in a conversation Monday with Mark Demski of FOX 40 TV in Sacramento.

Demski, who has covered numerous failed efforts to build a new arena in Sacramento, says there is confidence the City Council will approve the agreement Tuesday – just as they did last year. But he admits it’ll be a tougher sell to NBA owners when both Sacramento and Seattle present their case on April 3rd to the league’s Board of Governors.

But what exactly are they selling? The Sacramento Bee reports “details of the financing won’t be known for months,” leaving plenty of unanswered questions about Sacramento’s counter-offer to Chris Hansen’s reported $350 million deal with the Maloofs to buy the majority of the Kings and move them to Seattle.

“How will these owners all work together, and then on top of that do they have enough money then to buy the franchise and are they willing to spend what Mr. Ballmer and Mr. Hansen did?” Huard asks.

But even if NBA owners are comfortable with the arena financing plan and whatever bid the investors ultimately make to buy the Kings, there’s still what Huard calls Seattle’s ‘trump card’: a signed purchase and sale agreement between Hansen and the Maloofs.

“I don’t think these owners are in the business of breaking a signed purchase and sale contract, and especially when one is the most lucrative in the history of the NBA,” Huard says.