Johnson meets with Kings co-owner George Maloof
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson met with Kings co-owner George
Maloof on Friday in Las Vegas in an attempt to revive talks about a
new arena for the NBA team.
”The first thing to say is that we had a productive meeting,”
Johnson said Friday night at halftime of the Kings-Thunder game.
”I thought it was important to keep the lines of communication
open. In the spirit of Sacramento, if anything is going to be
productive, we have to communicate.
”We didn’t get into the core principles of the deal. That
wasn’t what it was about. It was just us sitting down face to face
and talking about possibilities.
”It was a solid step forward. We agreed to have a follow-up
conversation next week.”
The Maloof family issued a statement after the meeting,
”This afternoon Mayor Kevin Johnson had a meeting at the Palms
Hotel and met with George Maloof for nearly an hour,” the
statement said. ”The meeting was cordial; however, nothing
definitive resulted from the meeting. The Maloof family will not
have any further comments on the meeting.”
The Maloof family has balked at terms of an agreement reached
last month, though saying they want to remain in Sacramento. City
officials, led by former NBA star Johnson, met with the Maloofs and
league officials during the NBA’s All-Star weekend in Orlando in
February, celebrating a tentative deal to fund the estimated $391
million arena that would open for the 2015-16 season in the
downtown rail yards.
But the Maloofs have since taken issue with some of the terms –
particularly environmental and pre-development costs that Johnson
said made up less than 1 percent of the project’s cost.
Johnson has said Sacramento would be interested in keeping the
Kings under another owner, but the Maloofs have repeatedly said
they aren’t interested in selling, even as they have faced
financial difficulties that left the family with only 2 percent of
their ownership of the Palms Casino.
Anaheim is still interested in luring a team to the city-owned
Honda Center with the backing of Henry Samueli, the billionaire
technology executive who owns the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. Samueli
recently embarked on a $20 million improvement project, adding
several amenities to the well-maintained arena by early 2013.
Johnson was asked if he trusted the Maloofs when they say they
want to stay in Sacramento.
”I’ve got to take them at face value,” Johnson said.