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Economist, Maloofs call Kings arena deal bad a financial disaster

The SportsXchange

In the latest volley between the City of Sacramento and the Sacramento Kings, the team's owners called a press conference Friday to declare the arena deal between the parties a financial disaster.

Beacon Economics head Christopher Thornberg, one of California's leading economists, told the media on behalf of the Maloofs that the deal would put the NBA franchise and the city "right on the edge" of financial ruin.

Thornberg was hired by the Maloofs brothers, who own the Kings. He said the city's financial and attendance projections for the arena overblown. The arena deal was crafted by Sacramento officials and NBA officials, including Commissioner David Stern.

The press conference in New York came as the Maloofs were set to meet with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson during the NBA board of governors meetings. The Maloofs have balked at many items in their handshake agreement with the city for a new arena, according to The Sacramento Bee.

The Sacramento mayor and former NBA point guard did not comment on the trip, but his office said the city will not renegotiate with team on arena details.

Last April, the Maloofs asked the NBA to allow them to move the franchise to Anaheim, Calif., before Johnson convinced the owners to give them a year to carve out an arena project. Following the February NBA All-Star Game, Johnson, the Maloofs and Stern joyfully announced in Orlando they reached an agreement for $391 million arena near downtown Sacramento.

Despite approval by the city council, the arena project has hit a number of snags during the past two weeks. The Maloofs released a letter to the city outlining flaws in the agreement and discussed those issues Thursday with the other owners at the NBA meetings.

The meeting, at the urging of Stern, occurs of after two weeks of disagreements that began when the Maloofs said their never agreed to pay $3.2 million in pre-development costs that were specified in the term sheet. The Maloofs also filed a Public Records Act request for all correspondence between the city, the NBA and AEG, an arena investor which has agreed to run the facility.

City officials alleged that the Maloofs have been trying to undermine the project. Also, 25 Sacramento business leaders sent a letter to Stern on Thursday asking that the NBA strip the Maloofs of the ownership. Stern has said the league is unable to take such an action.

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