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Fate of Kings in Sacramento to be decided in New York hotel

Apr 10, 2012, 12:21 PM EDT

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The NBA owners are getting together in a mid-town Manhattan hotel this week, and not just to give us all lockout flashbacks. (Quick, get Larry Coon to order some pizza!). It’s time for the Board of Governor’s meeting (which is a fancy way of saying all the owners get together and vote on stuff).

It is in that hotel that the Kings’ Maloof brother will try to explain to the other owners why six weeks ago they stood in the middle of Power Balance Arena and basked in the applause for a handshake deal to build a new arena in Sacramento and keep the Kings in town, but now they renegotiate it. Which would kills the deal as the other parties are done talking. The family needs to explain why now that they have to do their share — when they have to write some checks — to keep their team in the city of a very loyal fan base they want out.

There is a reason Commissioner David Stern and the league pushed the Maloofs aside and negotiated a deal with Sacramento and eventual arena operator AEG. Those sides came to the deal where the Maloofs had to make some very reasonable contributions — starting with $3.2 million in pre-development fees — that the Maloofs now say are not reasonable.

It is the other NBA owners that will decide what is reasonable. They can veto any move of the team. They can’t force the Maloofs to sell (the wish of most Kings fans) but they can force the Kings to stay put in Sacramento. And there are buyers in the wings that want to keep the team in the city.

That said, the other owners are not going to want limit their flexibility going forward — they want the future ability to leverage their cities for truckloads of money to build (or upgrade) an arena and nothing does that like the threat of a move. The other owners could let the Kings go to Anaheim (over the objections of the Buss family that owns the Lakers and Donald Sterling of the Clippers).

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson will not be in New York to make the city’s case, reports the Sacramento Bee. City and AEG officials said they have done all they can. David Stern will present the league’s case and the handshake agreement reached a few weeks ago. Here is how the Bee breaks down the deal.

The Maloofs have declined to say publicly what their concerns are, other than their refusal two weeks ago to pay a $3.26 million share of the $13 million in pre-development costs the city says it needs to keep an arena project on track. The Kings also have objected to a proposal that they reimburse the would-be arena operator AEG its $3.26 million pre-development share if the deal falls apart without any fault from AEG….

AEG has agreed to contribute $58.75 million to a downtown arena. The Kings agreed to put up $73.3 million. The city would shoulder the bulk of the cost: $255.5 million.

A source familiar with the issue said the Kings would like more decision-making authority at the arena. The team reportedly also has concerns about parking issues, wants more input on the design, and has issues with the proposed lease terms and revenue streams, among other sticking points. The current “term sheet” calls for the Kings to sign a 30-year lease.

To me, this all seems a fair deal. Sacramento Mayor Johnson has come up with a way to get a much-needed new arena done, but the Maloofs — at least George for sure — clearly wants to move.

Now it falls into the hands of the other owners in a mid-town hotel. If the lockout is any indication, we could be waiting a while for an answer.

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