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Mayor tweets: Sacramento has arena deal to potentially keep Kings

The SportsXchange

The biggest hurdle to keep the Kings in Sacramento has been cleared, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson announced Saturday night.

Sending out several Twitter messages, Johnson announced that a deal has been struck to build a new downtown Sacramento arena to keep the Kings in town for the next 35 years.

"It's a great day in Sacramento!!!!!" Johnson wrote. "I'm pleased to announce an agreement w/ Burkle-Mastrov-Ranadive group on a public-private partnership to build a new ESC at DT Plaza Mall. Consistent w/our core tenets, the deal avoids new taxes, protects the City on the Kings loan, and ensures no net impact to the general fund. For a comparable investment to the 2012 deal, we've secured more private investment & greater econ development potential at the new site. The new ownership, historic in its reflection of our city's diversity, will invest up to $1B in Sac - a strong sign of confidence in our mkt."

A new arena has been the biggest obstacle to keep the team in Northern California, but the new deal doesn't necessarily assure the Kings will stay put, either. The current owners, the Maloof family, agreed in January to sell the team for $525 million to an investment group headed by Microsoft president Steve Ballmer and other investor Chris Hansen, which already have applied to move the team to Seattle for next season.

The new arena, according to the Sacramento Bee, will cost nearly $450 million. The city would invest $258 million by privatizing future arena parking revenues as well as selling several parcels of land to developers, including 100

The proposed ownership group will invest $190 million into the arena, City Councilman Steve Cohn confirmed to the Bee.

The NBA Board of Governors is scheduled to meet on April 18-19 in New York, with the Kings situation on the agenda, including to consider the Ballmer group's offer. However, NBA commissioner David Stern said he would give Sacramento the opportunity to match the Ballmer offer in an effort to keep the team in Sacramento. He has scheduled a pre-Board meeting on April 3 to evaluate offers and arena deals from both sides.

"I've been assured by the commissioner of the NBA that we will be given full consideration," Johnson said.

Two weeks ago, Stern said the Sacramento financial offer would have to be increased. Soon after, Johnson added Vivek Ranadive, who is already a minority owner of the Golden State Warriors, to his group of investors. The group already included Ron Burkle, a billionaire venture capitalist, and Mark Mastov, the creator of the 24-Hour Fitness chain.

"They will also make a 35-year commitment to keep the Sacramento Kings right here where they belong!" Johnson said of the investment group. "Once again, we're proving the strength of our market -- both as host to an NBA team, but as an emerging region with global potential. I'm excited to talk further about the deal with my Council colleagues and the public."

The overall offer must be approved by the Sacramento City Council, which meets Tuesday. In addition, the NBA will have to deny Maloofs' sale to the Ballmer/Hansen group and encourage the family to take the Burkle/Mastov/Ranadive offer. Stern has said repeatedly the Maloof family will not dictate where the team plays next season.
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