Skip to content

History of public subsidy support could be key issue in Sacramento Kings’ future

Feb 20, 2013, 3:11 PM EST

kj stern hugging

It’s no secret that public funds for arenas make the NBA world go round.

Seattle lost their Sonics because politicians did not want to play ball, right or wrong, and to top matters off they openly admonished David Stern and the NBA during the critical days and months that determined the Sonics’ fate.

The past behavior of Seattle politicians is not expected to be a defining factor in the league’s assessment of the two cities’ competing proposals.  However, an exchange between Stern and a Seattle reporter didn’t do much to quell any doubts.

When asked about whether or not he regretted the way the NBA left five years ago and if it would impact the league’s decision-making, Stern interrupted the reporter with visible irritation:

“Actually, no, it does not impact anything. This is being done by the book. I seem to remember, and correct me if I’m wrong, but there was $300 million-plus subsidy for the Mariners and $300 million-plus subsidy for the Seahawks. But there was legislation that precluded that for the Sonics. Speaker (of the House of Representatives Frank) Chopp said we should take the money from our players. Is there anything that I’m missing there? History is being rewritten in a way that your question gives me an opportunity to set the record straight.”

This strikes a stark contrast with the way Sacramento has worked with the NBA to secure public funds for an arena.  There is no doubt about the effort they made to get an arena deal done in 2011, working side by side with Stern and relocation committee head Clay Bennett to bring together $255 million in public funds for what league sources called a “model offer.”

When asked about Sacramento’s ability to extend their current offer of public funds from the last deal negotiated by the NBA, sources say Kevin Johnson’s strong support in the Sacramento city council last year is likely to continue this year.  The Sacramento City Council passed a 7-2 vote in favor of a symbolic resolution supporting the NBA on Tuesday.

Seattle and King County have also offered up to $120-145 million toward the creation of an NBA-only facility.

Stern has been careful to applaud Sacramento’s efforts in the public numerous times, most recently reminding reporters in Minnesota, “The mayor of Sacramento has advised that he will be back to us soon with a proposal from a group to buy the team in Sacramento and build a building in Sacramento with a substantial subsidy from the city of Sacramento.”

The league and its players have enjoyed over $3 billion in public funds for new arenas since 1990 and sources tell PBT on the condition of anonymity that the league is sensitive to what a move out of Sacramento could do to future subsidy collection efforts by the NBA.

Any additional ammunition given to public subsidy opponents could impact the league’s bottom line much more than what owners would proportionately receive in a relocation fee, which some have guessed to be in the $30-45 million dollar range.  The fee can be anything the league wants, and can be as high as the most recent franchise fee or franchise sale amount according to legal scholars at Loyola Marymount.

Sources tell PBT that a prohibitive relocation fee would only be sought by the league if it wanted to exert financial pressure against the Seattle deal, and that there has been zero talk of doing that at this time.

Should Sacramento produce the ‘fair and competitive offer’ sources expect before March 1, the league will be facing an unprecedented decision.  Never before has an NBA city shown strong support for a team, provided a “model offer” of public funds for a new arena and then lost their team.

With opposition of public subsidies for sports facilities growing every day, sources say the league wants to avoid a situation in which Sacramento provides a “model offer” only to have their team taken away.  This would send a message to future cities that their long-term investments in the NBA are not safe, even if the city does everything reasonably expected of them.

So even though the league probably won’t hold Seattle’s history against them, the fact that Sacramento has done everything that could ever be expected of them will be a point in their favor.

Latest Posts
  1. Giannis Antetokounmpo sprains ankle, leaves Bucks game not to return

    Dec 17, 2014, 11:46 PM EST

    Milwaukee Bucks v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    He walked off under his own power but did not return.

  2. Report: Mavericks and Celtics in ‘substantive discussion’ about Rajon Rondo trade

    Dec 17, 2014, 11:33 PM EST

    Boston Celtics v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    Rockets, Kings and Knicks also reportedly inquiring about Celtics point guard

  3. Adam Silver says Charlotte hosting All-Star Game is inevitable

    Dec 17, 2014, 10:25 PM EST

    Adam Silver AP

    In related news, Hornets got a ton of public funding to upgrade arena

  4. Greg Monroe’s agent says he does not want a trade from Pistons

    Dec 17, 2014, 7:39 PM EST

    Detroit Pistons v Orlando Magic Getty Images

    The offers are not going to be big, will Stan Van Gundy eventually give in and take one?

  5. Now what for Milwaukee Bucks? For rookie of the year race?

    Dec 17, 2014, 5:31 PM EST

    Jabari Parker AP

    There are no good answers for the Bucks, or for other rookies to reward.

  6. Kings owner says Malone fired because Kings now need “jazz director”

    Dec 17, 2014, 4:03 PM EST

    Oklahoma City at Sacramento Oklahoma City at Sacramento

    The Kings roster is poorly suited right now for the style the owner wants to play.

  7. Report: Pistons asked for Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague in discussing Greg Monroe trade with Hawks

    Dec 17, 2014, 2:30 PM EST

    Greg Monroe AP

    Portland also reportedly tried to trade for Monroe before he signed the one-year qualifying offer to stay in Detroit.

  8. Isaiah Austin gets added as a player in NBA 2K15 video game

    Dec 17, 2014, 1:50 PM EST

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptg2mzfkyty1yze1ntrjmmmwogrlmge3mdezmdqzmwfk AP

    Former Baylor University center was expected to be drafted, but was diagnosed with a disease that prematurely ended his chances of playing in the NBA.

  9. Dwyane Wade gets poked in the eye by referee, then flops (VIDEO)

    Dec 17, 2014, 1:10 PM EST

    Dwyane Wade AP

    Wade has a reputation of being a flopper, and appeared to exaggerate the contact from the official.

  10. Tyson Chandler says he feels sorry for Carmelo Anthony

    Dec 17, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    Dallas Mavericks v New York Knicks Getty Images

    He pities ‘Melo because a real competitor is suffering through a lot of losing.

Featured video

Can red hot Warriors sustain success?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Favors (7353)
  2. A. Davis (6607)
  3. K. Martin (6595)
  4. J. Noah (6499)
  5. T. Parker (6095)
  1. T. Jones (6084)
  2. D. Cousins (6072)
  3. A. Bogut (6060)
  4. K. Leonard (5953)
  5. B. Lopez (5740)