HANG TIME WEST – In summation: This is why it has taken about 10 years to get even this far on a new Sacramento arena.
Not money, though that has obviously been a factor in recent years. Not the NBA wanting the Kings to leave for a bigger market, despite how many people in Sacramento screeched such a claim in conjunction with the cries of big-market (Lakers! Lakers!) favoritism.
It’s that Kings management and local leaders can’t get out of their own way. As in the city offering a poorly written ballot measure in 2006 that could have closed the deal before the economy and the team went in the tank, as in the Kings owners contributing to the election defeat four years ago with an ill-timed burger commercial that flaunted their wealth at the same time taxpayers were being asked to dig deep, and now, as in the same Maloofs regurgitating much of the good will that had just been won. This is why.
Here they are, an agreement in place, funding under way, co-owner Gavin Maloof getting loud ovations at City Council meetings, mayor Kevin Johnson being cheered at Power Balance Pavilion… and stop the clock. Time for another layer of absurdity.
The Maloofs are objecting to paying $3.26 million toward pre-development work. That’s serious pocket change in the real world, but in their universe, it’s less than they pay occasional starters. It’s a small fraction of the $75 million they’ve committed to construction.
Or: Just maybe these details should have been worked out before the sides announced the romance was back on and rose petals fell from the sky.
Then, in the real new layer of incompetence, Maloof spokesman Eric Rose told the Los Angeles Times that “If an arena project cannot be completed by the timeline set by the city, then the Kings would be forced to explore all of their options.” Meaning relocation.
In a telephone interview, George Maloof told TNT analyst David Aldridge that the Maloof Family remained committed to paying the $73 million it said it would pay as part of the $400 million arena. But the family is adamant that it will not pay the $3.26 million in pre-development fees.
”We said he have the framework for a deal,” George Maloof said. “We never said we had a definitive agreement, with the understanding that we had a lot of work to be done.”
George Maloof said that the Maloofs also objected to the stipulation that they would repay AEG the $3.26 million it put up for pre-development costs if the arena project were to fall through.
”We’ve never seen a situation when tenant pays non-development costs,” he said. “Not only that, but paying AEG back their portion…that was kind of strange.”
Maloof said he hoped the issue would be resolved before next month’s Board of Governors meeting. But even though the league fronted the Maloofs the pre-development money, the family does not want to put any of its money into that phase of the construction.
”That was a nice gesture,” he said of the league’s payment. “I think they’re trying to keep the process going. But they’re fully aware of our position.”
A fragile arrangement is 99.8 percent complete, and this Rose guy is flashing gasoline and a blowtorch. He will not kill the deal because Johnson is playing above Rose’s head and commissioner David Stern will decide whether to have him for lunch or dinner, but some of the reclaimed Maloof popularity just went away.
The deal is nowhere close to being derailed. The league is advancing the Maloofs’ initial portion – the Sacramento Bee puts it at $200,000 – with the good possibility that a phone call from Stern to a Maloof ended with someone on the West Coast hanging up with a bloody ear. Something along the lines of “And tell your spokesman to zip it” may also have come up.
The Kings are waving the Seattle/Anaheim card just as the 2012-13 season-ticket drive gets under way. Genius marketing. How many lost sales before it adds up to $3.26 million? How many wasted shining moments before more fans have been turned off? How many more years?