The Sacramento Kings have found a team of bidders in Mark Mastrov and Ron Burkle in their most recent attempts to buy a team. The city of Sacramento has said it is trying to put together an arena proposal before the NBA Board of Governors meeting April 18th.
Mastrov has said he will be the one trying to buy the team, while Burkle will lead efforts to build a new downtown arena.
The Seattle group has run into another hurdle themselves, as an attorney from the longshore and warehouse union is filing a law-suite appeal today looking to force the city of Seattle and a private group to redo its environmental analysis on its proposed arena. The group has said the new arena will take jobs away from surrounding area and is challenging a ruling made by a Seattle judge.
The longshore and warehouse union also is challenging the ruling to throw out the lawsuite based on the fact that the Seattle Hansen-Ballmer group has presented an proposal to the NBA to build a new arena and has not yet gone through all the proper channels to gain approval for a new arena.
This single hurdle presents major challenges for the Seattle based group, who has already reached an agreement to buy the Kings from the Maloofs. NBA Commissioner David Stern has already stated that the sale and relocation of the Kings will largely depend on the two cities be willing to have an arena built in the next three years. The Board of Governors as well as the NBA Commissioner have said that without a deal for a new arena, it would more than likely vote against the franchise relocating.
Relocating an NBA franchise undeniably costs the NBA millions, and will financially effect the NBA in a negative way. Without an arena proposal, the Kings chances of moving to Seattle become very unclear.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and the City of Sacramento have sent a preliminary arena proposal as well as a counter-offer to buy the team to NBA League offices, and is currently in the process of laying out an official financing plan for the proposed new arena; which is to be built into the existing Downtown Plaza.
The city of Sacramento has said it will need to re-work its proposed deal from last year that would have provided $255 million for a new arena. The city had previously planned on leveraging downtown city parking to finance the new arena, but with the recent change in location, city officials are estimating that half of the 2000 parking spots will be lost when the new arena is developed. The city is looking for new ways to finance the arena while stating that some reconstruction may be needed to keep the remaining parking available.
The obvious answer to several of the parking issues becomes, if 1000 of the 2000 available parking spots will be lost due to the development of a new arena, how much would it cost to renovate the Sacramento Train yard and add additional parking there? The city will have to explore several possibilities and maintain communication with both Burkle and Mastrov, who both have appeared ready to make things work in Sacramento.
The City would benefit in several ways other than keeping their beloved Kings franchise. The City would draw major preforming acts back to Sacramento with a state of the art arena, and at times, the arena could be used multiple times in a single day even. The City would also see a major resurgence in the downtown area; which has fallen victim to the poor economic times in recent years. The arena could bring life back to the heart of downtown Sacramento providing a major hub for the city.
The Train yard could also continue to develop into a major transportation hub in Northern California. When people see the San Francisco Giants, a major factor is the multiple ways to get to games. The city of San Francisco has its municipal transit system running literally right in front of the Giants stadium, as well as the Amtrak station being only a few blocks from the stadium. This allows people to leave their vehicles parked miles away from the city, and helps traffic congestion during games.
The proposed downtown arena is only a few blocks away from the Sacramento Amtrak station, and would allow anyone from neighboring cities and areas around Sacramento to go to games without the burden of driving all the way to the arena. The downtown area already has large amounts of restaurants and bars in the area, all of which would provide an immediate social scene before and after games. The current Downtown plaza has been struggling for several years, but could see a strong resurgence with the increased amount of traffic an arena would bring.
To sum it all up, while the Seattle group is currently being bogged down by legal issues as well as public financing issues mostly pertaining to a proposed new arena, the city of Sacramento has been diligently working on preparing a financing deal to present to the NBA league offices as well as the NBA Board of Governors meeting. Coupled with last weeks counter offer to buy the Kings submitted by Ron Burkle and Mark Mastrov, Sacramento has shown its willingness to fight for their franchise, and things have started to look promising.