A funny thing happened to the NBA and their owners were playing their little game of Arena intimidation – A city told them to piss off. That city – Sacramento.
The Maloofs had been bitching for years about wanting a new arena, and even went so far as to apply to move to Anaheim. Well, Kevin Johnson became Mayor of Sacramento and in one year put together a solid plan for a new $391 million dollar arena. The financing was $255 million paid by Sacramento, $63 million by AEG (the arena development company), and $73 million from the Maloofs (fronted via a loan by the NBA). The state passed a law that fast-tracks environmental issues for arenas to be built in California. The table was set and the Maloofs wouldn't have to pay any up front costs. But in the immortal words of Lee Corso: "NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND"...
The Maloofs got greedy. They asked for half of the naming fees associated with the arena, although AEG was going to do all the work. They were asked to contribute $3.2 million in “pre-development costs”. They declined and that was the start of the most inept PR campaign that I have ever seen in my life. This campaign turned every Kings fan against the Maloofs. All of a sudden there were “concerns” which were ridiculous and trivial.
Anyway, David Stern (who was negotiating on behalf of the Maloofs) summoned Johnson to NYC for the last day of the Board of Governors meeting. Johnson finally had tired of the Maloofs antics and told the Maloofs publicly that they were being disingenuous. He told them that the negotiations were not going to be adjusted any more. He told David Stern that the city had contributed as much as they could and they couldn’t give any more.
At yesterday’s Board of Governors presentation, the Maloofs brought a lawyer who has a background in anti-trust. That pissed Stern off. Then they accused the city and the NBA of not responding to term sheet revisions that they requested. Finally, they accused everybody of having political reasons for not moving fast enough.
Fast forward to today, the Maloofs accused everybody of jerking them around and said they wanted to negotiate more with Johnson and the city. The city said no and that the new arena plan was “absolutely dead”.
The Maloofs then offered up renovating Arco Arena which they said for ten years wasn’t an option. Johnson informed the Maloofs that since Arco Arena was technically theirs, they were more than welcome to renovate or refit, but the City of Sacramento would not contribute one dime. Sacramento has had enough of the game playing and is now playing hardball!
The Maloofs have pissed off Sacramento and these great fans beyond belief. They have to stay for another year here in Sacramento. Good luck getting businesses to contribute to you next season, and good luck selling season tickets and tickets as a whole Maloofs. If the Maloofs choose to move, Anaheim is more than willing to take them, and right now Sacramento doesn't really care because quite frankly, We'll have 27 years of memories. Just like one year ago, here it is...
Piss off Maloofs. This is what awaits the your funky Royals down in Anaheim (note the empty parking lot...)
Anaheim, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. I hope your investments and sneaky back room dealing is worth it. It's going to take forever for you to fix the mess of a team the Maloofs created, and will delay any possible return on that maximum investment you are getting ready to lay out because those fickle front-running fans down in the OC won't wait. Best of luck Henry Samueli, you're gonna need it with your new toy, the Anaheim Royals.
Bottom line - the NBA is screwed here. There are at least eight teams who are coming up with arena issues and in the past the NBA could steamroll cities. Sacramento was the first to say screw you and now the NBA has to re-figure their strategies in dealing with cities. There aren't enough cities to where you can rotate franchises around. Kansas City maybe and that's about it.
Cities, tell pro sports fat cat bastards living on this kind of welfare to screw off!